The New York Yankees have a solid infield prospect in Oswald Peraza. And if there’s anyone who should be worried, it’s Gleyber Torres.
Oswald Peraza wasn’t a name most New York Yankees fans really knew heading into 2021.
This is strange, especially considering Peraza is the team’s No. 4 prospect. The Yankees’ infield is also pretty crowded at the moment, especially up the middle. DJ LeMahieu can play multiple positions, but also signed a six-year extension last offseason. Gleyber Torres isn’t the best fielder, but his hitting tools are enough to keep him around.
Well, at least that was the story heading into the season. We’re past mid-may and Oswald Peraza is heating up in the minors.
It may not seem like it, but this could mean Gleyber Torres is officially on notice.
Oswald Peraza is turning heads
Granted, it’s not like Peraza is knocking on MLB’s door right now, fully on the cusp of a promotion. Rather, he’s currently with the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades. Peraza is also still just 20 years old, so he has at least a year before he’s even considered for a major league roster.
Yet, that doesn’t mean Oswald Peraza still won’t be promoted this year. As MLB Pipeline reported, he recently went on quite the hot streak and hit a home run in three consecutive ABs. Peraza also hit five home runs in four games during his hot streak and is batting .314 with five homers, eight RBI, and even nine steals.
Oswald Peraza does it again!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 15, 2021
This is a very encouraging sign for Peraza’s future, especially considering he lost a year of development last year because of the pandemic. His fielding too has been impressive, with just one error committed at shortstop thus far.
If he keeps up this level of hitting, it will not be a matter of if he gets promoted to Double-A Somerset this year, but when.
Gleyber Torres, however, is not
Now, let’s talk about Gleyber Torres. Unlike his fellow Venezuelan Peraza, his 2021 season has not gotten off to the best of starts. He’s only batting .234 with just one home run and ten RBI this year.
A big reason for this is clearly trying to do too much, as his soft contact has risen almost seven points from 13.9% to 20.8%. Even worse, Torres’ hard contact has dipped to 16.7%, well below his career mark of 35.8%.
Torres is just going through a particularly rough start (as are lots of hitters, thanks new baseball!) and will find his way at the plate. The bigger question with him is his shortstop defense, which can be suspect. His career defensive runs saved (DRS) at the position is -12, and his outs above average (OAA) at shortstop aren’t much better at -9.
Granted, Torres’ DRS this year is up to 2. In fairness, he has looked better after a horrific start in the field. Yet, the Yankees care about analytics enough that the 24-year-old could be shown the door if the fielding doesn’t improve.
Let’s also not forget that Torres struggled in 2020 because he showed up to summer camp out of shape. Still, he hit .298 after Aug. 8 and was effective in the playoffs. The Yankees even said they expected him to return to his usual form in 2021.
He hasn’t so far, Peraza is playing well, and shortstop is a premium position. Simply put, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe can recast James Rhodes/War Machine, the New York Yankees can absolutely trade Gleyber Torres for pitching and install Oswald Peraza at shortstop.
Again, this does not mean Peraza is already being measured for pinstripes and Torres will soon pack up his locker. It’s like was said before, Oswald Peraza needs at least another year in the minors, maybe even two.
Yet, Gleyber Torres gave fans a taste of what could be in 2019, hitting 38 home runs with 90 RBI. Since then, he has hit a meager .238 and there are still questions about his defense. Looking at the Yankees’ prospect page, Peraza’s fielding is described as having “smooth actions at shortstop, the arm to make any throw necessary and a good internal clock that helps him slow the game down defensively.”
Torres is fine for now, but shouldn’t get too comfortable. Oswald Peraza has just performed that well and might be someone worth some extra attention in 2021.