The winter 2015 three team trade of fan favorite and Home Run Derby star Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox brought back right fielder Scott Schebler, infielder Brandon Dixon, and the current Reds second baseman, Jose Peraza. After slow starts the past two seasons, Schebler’s power (he currently leads the team in home runs) has swung the outcome of the trade to the side of the Reds, but the jury is still out on the supposed centerpiece at the time of the deal, Peraza.

Following the spring trade of Brandon Phillips to Atlanta, Peraza was installed as one half of the team’s current, and perhaps future, middle infield. This move was made as not only a way for a rebuilding team to get younger, but also based on an end of 2016 season in which Peraza, flashing the speed which has been evident wherever he’s played, finished with a .324 batting average and an on-base percentage of .352.

So far, through 42 games in 2017, that confidence in Peraza seems to have been misplaced. He’s currently hitting to the tune of .253 with his usual lack of power (nine extra base hits – one home run but, to his credit, three triples), lack of walks (five compared to 22 strike outs), and an ugly OBP of .287 – which for a speed-contact guy makes all of the Moneyballers cringe. Dropped from the second spot in the line-up to his current seventh, his lack of pitches seen per at bat (on his career average of 3.46) and on-base percentage are less of a liability. However, going forward, the Reds have to be wondering, what is the ceiling of an “in his prime” Jose Peraza?

Peraza’s career stats through only 121 games show parts of his game which indeed do show some promise – a batting average of .289, speed to the tune of 32 career stolen bases, and a high-contact bat with only 57 strikeouts in 429 career at bats. Having just turned 23 on the 30th of April, perhaps these are the traits which led Peraza to be considered a league-wide, top 100 prospect across three different organizations (Atlanta, Los Angeles Dodgers, and then, Cincinnati).

The cynic might look at this current version of Peraza and see only his floor – a useful utility player capable of playing multiple positions anywhere around the diamond; a National League manager’s best friend type of bench bat, great for the hit and run game and more than capable of stealing a base to influence a late, close ballgame.

But you have to think that the Reds powers that be are choosing to focus on Peraza’s ceiling instead. With youth comes potential, and Peraza’s potential to grow into that top-of-the-order, speed-contact middle infielder with a (at least) respectable OBP is still there.

The more experience he gains through his first full season playing at the highest level will help to determine just how high that ceiling will be. Coming into this season, the thought was that the kids would play, and the process of seeing who would be a part of the next contending Reds team was in full swing. This process of discovery includes a full season of Peraza in the lineup daily — regularly at second base but really only biding time until a Zack Cozart trade would allow for his shift to shortstop full time.

Not without the struggles that come along with youth, Bryan Price made the right decision when he recognized early that Peraza wasn’t quite ready for the two spot in the line-up. Hitting seventh and typically ahead of only the catcher and pitcher, the pressure to adapt his approach can come at a more simplified and less high-profile timeline.

Back to the question we asked above, what is Jose Peraza’s ceiling? Is it to be a lead-off hitting middle infielder capable of hitting over .300 with an OBP of .390? Or, again in this season of discovery, are we impatient through forty-something games (and blind to youth) and quick to grasp his floor for what it is and move onto the next option?

I’m not much of a gambler, but based on where this team is right now, I let it ride. I give Peraza a full season (or more, who knows?) to really see what type of a player he is. Whether by discovery of a high ceiling, low ceiling, high floor, or low floor, the 2017 Reds are an open try-out for potential and future growth.

Come one! Come all! Cincinnati, the land of opportunity!

Need an example? Just look at the current state of the starting rotation…

37 Responses

  1. reaganspad

    I like Pedraza, but I am a Stephenson fan as well. I love our guys.

    But at some point, you have to do what is right for the team. Peraza has to hit in the 8 hole in front of the pitcher. He never would give Billy a chance to feature his tools while he was in the 2 hole.

    And his approach, which may improve, screams 8 hole as he does not care what kinds of pitches he gets to hit; strikes, balls…he is perfect to hit before the pitcher. His speed also plays well there with a sacrifice situation and he is the one guy who could keep from clogging the bases in front of Billy.

    He is a little faster than Tucker…

    • IndyRedMan

      I want a guy that will take a walk batting 8th. I think the pitcher would be leading off too often with Peraza in the 8 hole. Not to mention I hate Dusty ball where Stubbs would get on and the pitcher would struggle (usually fail) to move him over when Stubbs could’ve just stolen the base anyway? You might have the only solution if Price is always going to force a bunt against charging infielders and leave Barnhart hung out to dry week after week!

      Overall…Peraza has a lot of talent and is very smooth! He’s only 23…play him as much as possible and see what happens!

      • reaganspad

        I have to agree to disagree here Indy. I would rather have that guy who can take a walk bat 2nd so that Billy gets a chance to steal.

        Peraza may improve his walk rate in the 8 hole as pitcher will give him the pass to get to the pitchers spot.

        Peraza’s outs wherever the come in the lineup are inconvenient. but when your OBP is under 300 you go to the 8 hole if your name is Hamilton or Peraza

      • reaganspad

        But then if the pitcher gets on, or if Barnhart gets on, you now have clogged the bases for Peraza and Billy.

        I think Billy would give Peraza a much better chance to steal than the other way around

        good stuff, thanks Patrick

      • Moses

        except that requires him getting on base…

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    I concur with what Adam Taylor said above. Peraza is only 23, and has a career batting average of .289. There’s plenty of time to work on his refinement both at the plate, and at shortstop, where he will be after Cozart is gone.

    • Adam Taylor

      It’s not like there is a hot shot middle infielder at Louisville beating down the door…Herrera included (.236 batting average right now)

  3. big5ed

    Peraza is slashing .288/.325/.438 in May, which I will take for a 23-year-old. I’ll give him a pass for a nervous April.

    I thought early on that his swing was way too upper-bodyish, with little use of his legs, which would account for a lot of the weak contact. But he’s getting his legs into his swing more lately. He has one homer, but he hit one the other day that was literally an inch and a half from being out–the one that caromed funny off something on the top of the wall and came back in.

    I think that the Reds should be patient with him, but that he’ll be fine.

  4. Simon Cowell

    Even if Peraza is what he is. He is also just 23. He can develop and improve. Most of these guys arrive at 25 or 25 at best. So if he has a top hit tool potential then let him settle in for a couple of years. We have bigger worries with our starting 5. You heard it here first. Bronson Arroyo has 6 more starts before being released. 6. No more.

    • IndyRedMan

      That’s atleast 20 more moonshots to look forward to!! They should issue our outfielders neck braces when Arroyo pitches so they don’t strain something looking up in the upper deck!

      • Shawn P

        Homer and DeScalfina will not be back before the All-Star break. Finnegan maybe. Bronson barring injury will be in there awhile.

  5. james garrett

    He needs to play every day but must show better patience at the plate.He seems to be swinging flat footed and has shown little of the power he showed last year.He is only 23 and his upside is why I say let him play.He is not a #2 hitter at all because he swings at everything but at 7 or 8 his flaws are hidden a little bit.His one homer this year was a 420 ft upper deck shot on a 95 mph fastball.He has pop he just needs to come out of his shoes when he swings.Patience is the key with him and will he listen to what he is being told.

  6. IndyRedMan

    Well Cozart couldn’t be walked previously in his career either. He averaged 25 walks in 2013-14. He’s already got 21 walks this year. Lets hope it doesn’t take Peraza 8 more years to figure it out!

  7. David

    About this time last year, people were about ready to flush Eugenio Suarez down the tubes.
    First, he has to improve….his English, so he can communicate better with coaches and fellow ball players. Eugenio has really tried to step up and improve his English.
    Second, he has to learn to be more selective in hitting. He has a quick bat and is pretty strong for his size, but he is too ready to attack anything that comes over the plate. Everybody KNOWS this about him already, but apparently no one can coach him into modifying his hitting approach. Watching the last few days, I have seen actually improve his approach during some at bats. Who knows, maybe he is actually listening?

    I am not “officially” disappointed in him yet, as I am with Dilson Herrera. Herrera to me is frankly a wash out. The trade of Jay Bruce ranks with one of the worst the Reds have ever made.
    Frazier was a fan favorite, but his offense left a lot to be desired. I think we got good value for him. Schebler is becoming a pretty good player (and he too needs more ML experience). Give Peraza a couple more seasons to mature into playing at the ML level.
    The other player to look for is Juan Perez (2nd Base) at the AAA level. He is having a very good year. I saw him a few times on the TV during Spring Training, and he was actually pretty impressive, to my untrained eye.

    • IndyRedMan

      I think Suarez gets pull happy at times and his swing gets a little long but with a .918 ops and gold glove level defense at 3b….not much to complain about! I get frustrated with Reds management at times but Suarez was a real find!

  8. eric3287

    I’ve noticed something similar with peraza where he almost seems to try and place the ball in that no-man’s land between CF/2B/SS. FanGraphs

    The other thing you see is he seems to be making an effort to hit the ball to RF. Most of the pitches he gets are middle/middle away (
    but most of what he swings ( and makes contact with ( is inside.

    Not sure how these graphs turned out, but they seem to show someone trying to hit the ball to RF, even on pitches inside that you’d think he’d be better suited to try and turn on and hit into LF.

  9. Redgoggles

    His play – while somewhat underwhelming to date – still doesn’t make me miss (the recent edition of) BP. So, yeah I’m a fan of seeing how far his ceiling raises.

  10. bouwills

    To me, the very good Frazier trade which brought us Peraza & Schebler established the floor for both middle infielders & corner outfielders in this rebuild. You gotta play better than those 2 guys to start for the Reds at 2nd, ss, lf, & rf for the next several years. I think it’s a decently high floor that Williams can build on.

  11. sandman

    I’ve never really been a believer in Peraza. This may come as no surprise to a lot of you seeing as how you know my feelings on the rebuild and not having anymore “favorite” players. But that’s not really what this is about. Even when Peraza was tearing it up last season I would read Redlegnation articles about him that said that he’ll likely not maintain that kind of hitting. Alas, you were right (so far). Yes, he is still young and MAYBE deserves a little more time. The question for me becomes just how long are we willing to wait for him to reach that ceiling (if he ever does)? I hate waiting! That will come as no surprise either as I’ve put that out there as well. If you ask me, His ceiling won’t be much higher than what we’re seeing right now. I guess that’ll be enough for y’all but for me it goes to show that you can’t put much faith in prospect rankings. I don’t believe in them.

    • IndyRedMan

      In 2014 Cozart was one of the worst 2-3 offensive players in the game and now his ops is higher then Joey’s! Now obviously that could be fools gold but he’s drawing walks which he has never done. Is Peraza capable of growing and adapting? He’s got bat control, speed, and range on defense! That’s a start. We’ll see…but on a contender he’d already be losing a lot of time to Scooter!

      • sandman

        IndyRedMan, not everyone gets better as time goes on. Not saying that Peraza won’t get better…maybe he will…but what if he don’t. In that scenario the answer’s probably easy for some of you…cut ties and move on. A big ol Whatever! People have such faith in unproven kids. Again, sometimes that faith is rewarded. Good for you. The only one I have faith in is God. Faith in people will sometimes not pay off…then you’re disappointed, maybe even hurt or angry. Oh, yes, some of you are big boys and girls and can handle each of these feelings/emotions. But there will be some of you that will try to diminish my rantings as being overdramatic…”It’s just a game”, and all that. I suppose you’d be right.

  12. IndyRedMan

    Since this is another rebuild year….why not play Alcantara at 2b a little more? He was a highly rated prospect for the Cubs a few years ago and might be better then Peraza?

    • bouwills

      I too like Alcantara, but if (and when) the Reds trade Cozart, I think they might be best suited giving Gennett some PT at both 2nd & 3rd as well as Suarez some PT at ss.

  13. sandman

    Patrick, I find it interesting that you said that it might be alright to start critiquing Peraza’s performance bcuz I’ve noticed a distinct lack of reporters asking any questions of these reds kids about their performances (good or bad). I suppose they could be asking these questions but just not a whole lot. So, I was wondering (if my observation is true) if the reporters are purposely not asking these questions of their own free will and accord (bcuz they realize these kids are still developing) or if the Reds themselves have unofficially or officially “asked” the media/reporters to not ask these kids many questions. Admittedly, the first situation seems the most likely. But with you saying that it may be alright to critique Peraza it makes me wonder if this tide is starting to turn just a little.

  14. Jack

    At 23 years old why wouldn’t you give him a couple of more years? Who else do you hsve to replace him at short once Cozart leaves? Hell we waited for Cozart for a long time. Let’s wait till he gets comfortable first before we toss him away. He is hitting .287 in the month of may and he is seeing pitches.

  15. cfd3000

    First things first – sign Cozart to an extension (assuming his contract demands aren’t insane). I’m terrified of a Peraza / Herrera double play tandem based on current results. Second, if our measuring stick for Peraza is deciding if he’s best suited to hit in the 7, 8, or 9 hole, he’s not a legitimate offensive prospect. Yes, I agree with Adam and Patrick Jeter that the Reds should let this experiment play out, but primarily because there’s no one else (yet) to plug in at second unless you like Alcantara. I’m on record as disappointed in Peraza and doubt he’s a long term answer at second or (please no) short. I start wondering how Senzel (or Suarez) would do at second. I must say I like an offense with eight formidable bats. Think about a healthy lineup of Mesoraco, Votto, Senzel, Cozart, Suarez, Winker (or Duvall), Hamilton and Schebler. Not a single breather there. Bring that on please.

    • sixpacktwo

      I think Suarez will move to 2nd, if Senzel stays at 3nd in the minors. I agree with signing of Cozart for a couple of years, but if he continues he will be too expensive. Peraza to SS and he has plenty of time to grow.

  16. Playtowin

    Great posting by Adam Taylor. Well researched. Thoughtful.