The Yankees have made one of the more notable September call-ups around the league, announcing the promotion of top shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With active rosters expanding and Peraza already on the 40-man roster, no corresponding move is necessary.
It’s the first big league call for the 22-year-old, who has spent a bit more than six years climbing the minor league ladder. Originally signed by New York out of Venezuela during the 2016-17 international signing period, the 6’0″ infielder spent his first couple seasons in rookie ball. He put himself firmly on the prospect radar by 2019, showing a high-contact approach in Low-A that year. The cancelation of the following minor league season cost Peraza a year of reps, but New York still felt there was a chance another team would take him in the Rule 5 draft and carry him on the MLB roster in 2021.
The Yankees therefore added Peraza to the 40-man roster, and he’s occupied a spot there for the past couple seasons as he’s continued to progress through the system. He mashed in a 28-game stint in High-A to start 2021, earning a quick promotion to Double-A Somerset. Peraza played most of the year there, hitting .294/.348/.466 with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases through 79 games. That impressive age-21 season earned him a late-season cameo in Triple-A and plenty of public support on Top 100 prospect lists entering this year.
Peraza placed among the game’s top farmhands in preseason rankings at Baseball America, ESPN, The Athletic and FanGraphs. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel was the most bullish, slotting him 25th leaguewide, but evaluators broadly agreed he was a plus defensive shortstop with power potential and bat-to-ball skills. Reports raised questions about his tendency to chase pitches outside the strike zone, but consensus opinion is that he has the physical tools to be an above-average regular.
The right-handed hitter hasn’t done much to change those reviews in 2022. He got off to a slow start in Triple-A but has turned things on of late, and his season line now sits at a solid .258/.329/.440. He’s hit 18 homers and swiped 33 bases on 38 attempts. Peraza’s 8% walk rate and 23.2% strikeout percentage are each pedestrian, but it’s a generally productive showing for a player of his youth and defensive profile. BA slotted him second among Yankees prospects (behind only fellow shortstop Anthony Volpe) and #76 overall on its most recent Top 100 update. McDaniel now has him 36th leaguewide, agreeing that only Volpe is the more promising minor leaguer in the New York system.
Rival teams inquired about Peraza’s availability at the trade deadline, with the Reds and Marlins reportedly looking to include him in respective discussions about Luis Castillo and Pablo López. New York held onto him, though, and he’s now in position to potentially factor into their postseason run. The Yankees are coming off an awful month of August, but they’re still a lock to make the playoffs in some capacity. With a six-game lead over the Rays in the AL East, New York remains a strong favorite for a division title and a top two seed that’d earn them a first-round bye.
What role Peraza will play remains to be seen, but it stands to reason he’ll be in manager Aaron Boone’s starting lineup more often than not. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson, acquired together in an offseason blockbuster with the Twins, have been the primary left side duo in the Bronx. Kiner-Falefa is hitting only .261/.310/.315 on the season, and he carries a .237/.290/.289 mark dating back to the All-Star Break. He’s gotten mixed reviews from public metrics for his glovework. Defensive Runs Saved has rated Kiner-Falefa 11 runs above average, the fifth-highest mark among shortstops. Statcast, on the other hand, has pegged him as a run below average.
Curtailing Kiner-Falefa’s playing time seems the easiest way to get Peraza into the lineup, but the Yankees could also work him in at the hot corner while giving Donaldson a few more days off. The former MVP has a roughly average .222/.308/.382 line across 441 plate appearances. He’s still drawing unanimous praise from public metrics for his glove, but the Yankees have also given the 36-year-old a fair number of quasi-rest days as a designated hitter.
However he’s deployed, Peraza will have a bit less than five weeks to make a case for a spot on the playoff roster. As a player who was on the 40-man by September 1, he’s automatically postseason-eligible (although even players in an organization but not on the 40-man are often easily added to playoff rosters via petition to the league office). Even if he doesn’t play a key role this postseason, Peraza will get his feet wet against big league arms as he looks to stake a claim to an Opening Day roster spot next year. He’ll have one minor league option year remaining after this season, so the Yankees can send Peraza back to Scranton next season if he doesn’t hit the ground running.
Peraza will be paid at the prorated $700K MLB minimum rate for any time he’s on the big league roster, and he’ll pick up a bit of major league service time. Far too much time has passed for him to accrue a full season of service or even threaten early arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player. He won’t be arb-eligible until after 2025 at the earliest, with his quickest path to free agency coming after 2028. If he’s optioned back to the minors next year, that could push his trajectory further into the future.
It’s also worth noting that Peraza will not reach 60 days of MLB service this season, nor is he likely to tally 130 at-bats and exhaust his rookie eligibility. He’ll technically remain a prospect headed into 2023, a potentially meaningful distinction under the new collective bargaining agreement. Players with less than 60 days of service who appear among two preseason Top 100 lists at Baseball America, ESPN or MLB Pipeline (as Peraza seems likely to do next offseason) can net their team a bonus amateur draft choice based on their early-career finishes in awards voting, so long as their club carries them on the MLB roster for a full service year. If the Yankees break camp with Peraza and he wins a Rookie of the Year or places highly in MVP balloting during his first couple seasons, New York could pick up an extra draft choice down the line.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported Peraza’s promotion before the team announcement.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.