11:22am: A Braves official tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) that the prospect of the club trading Peraza is a “complete fabrication.”
8:26am: The Yankees have been scouting Braves second base prospect Jose Peraza, former Major League scout Jeff Wren (brother of ex-Atlanta GM Frank Wren) reports via Twitter. According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees have informed the Braves about their interest in Peraza, and King notes the Yankees are presumably interested in Peraza as a potential long-term answer at second.
Peraza, who turns 21 on April 30, was originally signed by the Braves for a $350K bonus out of Venezuela in 2010. He has steadily climbed through Atlanta’s farm system and broke out with a .339/.364/.441 performance over 499 plate appearances (304 at the high-A level, 195 at Double-A) in 2014. Speed is Peraza’s calling card, as he went 60-for-75 in stolen base attempts last season and is 178-for-220 in steals over his minor league career.
That big 2014 season earned Peraza a spot in several major top-100 prospect lists, albeit within a wide range. ESPN’s Keith Law had Peraza as high as #24 in his preseason rankings, while MLB.com had him 39th (and first among Braves prospects), Baseball America had him 54th and Baseball Prospectus ranked Peraza in the 92nd slot.
It’s worth noting that Peraza is a natural shortstop and only became a primary second baseman last year, as the Braves shifted him since Andrelton Simmons has the position locked down at the MLB level. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook praised Peraza’s hands and quick release and believed “he should be able to remain” at either middle infield position as he develops.
With this in mind, it’s possible the Yankees could see Peraza as a potential answer at shortstop rather than second base. Both positions are rather up in the air for the club — Didi Gregorius has gotten off to a slow start both offensively and defensively, while veteran Stephen Drew is considered a placeholder for either Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela. Refsnyder, however, has had defensive problems while Pirela is recovering from a concussion, King notes.
King speculates that New York could offer a package of two prospects for Peraza, one of whom could be catcher Gary Sanchez. The Yankees seem set on John Ryan Murphy as their catcher of the future in anticipation of Brian McCann’s eventual shift away from behind the plate, leaving Sanchez possibly expendable. Sanchez was himself a highly-ranked prospect prior to the 2014 season, which saw him post solid offensive numbers at Double-A, but his defensive prowess is a question mark and “his work ethic and maturity are concerns” according to the MLB.com scouting report.
As for the second minor leaguer in the deal, King doubts the Yankees would move Luis Severino, the club’s top pitching prospect. I agree with King — Severino and Peraza are roughly on the same level of value, so moving Severino and more would command a higher return than just Peraza.
That said, New York would certainly have to offer something significant to convince the Braves to part with Peraza whatsoever. Atlanta acquired a bit of young middle infield depth in the form of Jace Peterson this offseason, so it’s possible they could be more willing to move Peraza.