Despite management speaking highly of Isiah Kiner-Falefa as a solution in the Yankees infield, the writing is on the wall, Oswald Peraza has a chance to secure the starting shortstop job. With Josh Donaldson already cemented at third base, according to manager Aaron Boone, IKF may end up riding the pine to start the 2023 season.
Committing to the youth movement led by Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera will surely pose some questions during the upcoming campaign, notably if the two youngsters can show consistency in the batter’s box.
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The Yankees have seen flashes of premium talent from Oswald Peraza:
Over a small sample size in 2022, Peraza was phenomenal. He enjoyed 57 at-bats, hosting a .306 average, .404 OBP, a 10.5% walk rate, and a 15.8% strikeout rate. Based on his Triple-A metrics, those numbers should regress to a more reasonable level. He hit .259 with a .329 OBP, 19 homers, and 50 RBIs with 33 stolen bases across 99 games with Scranton last year.
Peraza’s Steamer projections have him playing 63 games, hitting .242 with a .298 OBP, seven homers, and 27 RBIs with nine stolen bases. If you extrapolate that over a full year, he should hit double-digit homers easily and steal close to 20 bags.
Peraza has already made a lasting impression on Boone, who spoke highly of the 22-year-old infielder who has the upper hand at winning the shortstop job.
“He really impressed me, getting to be around him, just with how he handled everything,” manager Aaron Boone said this week. “From the call-up to getting some sparing opportunities, taking advantage of those opportunities and then being ready when his number was called, even in the postseason. It was an encouraging year for him.”Per the New York Post.
Peraza‘s offense isn’t what makes him special, though, it is his Gold Glove caliber defense. In Triple-A, he played 748.2 innings defensively at shortstop, recording 47 double plays and 108 putouts. He enjoyed 89 innings with the Yankees last year, posting a perfect fielding percentage.
“I think he’s got a chance to have a long career in this game as a frontline shortstop, no question,” the manager added.
Not many are worried about Peraza’s smoothness as a fielder but rather his consistency as a batter. He has the tools to be a solid contact hitter with underrated power, but it’s just a matter of how long it takes for him to adjust to Major League pitching.
Oswald has already identified the tremendous opportunity staring him in the face, but nothing has changed regarding his work ethic. He just needs to let his talent do the work.
“You have a legit opportunity right in front of you, reachable,” the 22-year-old said. “At the same time, the mentality and the work is the same.”
Peraza has done nothing but impress during spring training, launching a homer during Thursday’s live batting session. His pull power to left field is notable, showcased by his lone home run last season.
We will be keeping a close eye on Peraza moving forward, but he’s already shown some impressive qualities in just the first few days of spring training, which should get management excited about the impending position battle.