Part 4 in a series analyzing the Yankees’ top prospects
While it is obvious Yankees minor leaguers are playing for the organization, there is no denying they are also showcasing their talent for other teams that might want to acquire them.
Following the 2018 season, the Yankees used Justus Sheffield a 2014 first-round pick of the Indians they got in a trade for Andrew Miller, to acquire James Paxton from the Mariners. During the 2017 season, the Yankees sent outfielder Blake Rutherford, their first-round choice in 2016, to the White Sox for Todd Frazier. Right-hander Sony Gray came from the A’s at the 2017 trade deadline for right-hander James Kaprielian, a first-round pick in 2015, and Jorge Mateo, a highly regarded middle infielder who could also play center field. Catcher John Ryan Murphy, a second-round selection in 2009, was traded to the Twins for Aaron Hicks following the 2015 season.
Though the Yankees will always be players in the free-agent market, as they were after the 2019 season when they signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract and infielder DJ LeMahieu before the start of the 2019 seasonto a two-year deal worth $24 million, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino and Kyle Higashioka are all homegrown big leaguers.
As are highly rated pitching prospects Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia.
Making his way up the prospect list is shortstop Oswald Peraza, who will turn 20 in two weeks. The 6-foot, 165-pounder from Venezuela, played at Staten Island (short-season) and Low-A Charleston last season as a 19-year-old.
Most impressive was his bat, providing better numbers when he made the jump from Staten Island to Charleston.
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“He has a good feel for the barrel, good barrel awareness. He can run, is an elite defender and plays the game the right way,’’ said David Adams, Staten Island’s manager last season and a former Yankees infielder in 2013 when he played in 43 games. “He is one of those guys who shows up every day.’’
In 18 games for Staten Island, Peraza hit .241 (19-for-79) and in 46 games for Charleston, he batted .273 (50-for-183). Combined Peraza batted .263 with a .332 on-base percentage and stole 23 bases in 30 attempts.
“He is a guy who can play shortstop every day. I don’t think there is any questions about moving him somewhere else,’’ Adams said of Peraza, who was ranked as the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect by Baseball America after last season.
Since Peraza appeared in three big league exhibition games this past spring training, and likely no minor league games this summer due to the coronavirus, the Yankees could include him on a 20-man “taxi squad’’ to work out and remain ready, if needed.
As for the future, should Peraza continue to improve as he moves up, he could eventually allow the Yankees to shift Gleyber Torres from short back to second. But first he would likely have to bypass slick-fielding Kyle Holder, who played last season at Double-A Trenton as a 25-year-old and a .264 career minor league hitter. Scouts rave about Holder’s sure hands. He was the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2015.
“[Peraza] is an interesting guy,” vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring said before the start of last season. “He has a nice tool set across the board and projects as a guy who stays at shortstop down the road as an above-average defender.”
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