When the New York Yankees called up Oswald Peraza to feature down the stretch during the 2022 campaign, they didn’t imagine he’d be so efficient in the batter’s box.
At 22 years old, Pereza enjoyed just 18 games and 57 plate appearances, hitting .306 with a .404 OBP, one homer, and two RBIs, hosting a 146 wRC+.
Expectations for Peraza’s defense were always high, but his offensive qualities were a question mark. Stepping into a Major League scenario and immediately producing is a difficult task, but Peraza stepped up to the plate and delivered.
After a small sample size of success, he’s put himself in a prime position to earn the starting shortstop job for the 2023 season, despite competition from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Anthony Volpe.
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In fact, backup catcher Kyle Higashioka had some glowing words regarding Peraza’s impact and how calm he was stepping into a more competitive environment.
It seemed like nothing really fazed him. You could see the same thing with Cabrera. But Peraza came up and he did his thing and it was almost like, quietly, he started hitting .300-something. We started seeing him putting together better performances as he went and we could see some of the glove a little bit from the times he got to play shortstop and we were like, ‘Man, this kid’s pretty good. He’s quietly putting together a really solid month.’ Even playing once a week or whatever, it was pretty cool to see.Via Brendan Kuty of The Athletic.
The Yankees are investing a lot of faith in Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera:
Both Peraza and Cabrera have ice in their veins, gearing up for more impactful seasons. Peraza projects to play in 66 games this upcoming year, according to his Steamer projections. They have him hitting .249 with a .308 OBP, eight homers, and 31 RBIs. If he wins the starting shortstop job, we should expect him to play at least 100+ games, hitting double-digit homers with ease.
As we saw during the ALCS against the Houston Astros, he features dynamic defensive qualities with range and consistency on routine plays. IKF was a liability in that regard last season, so having a player like Peraza that can convert high-probability ground balls is precisely what the team needs. Nonetheless, Volpe will have an opportunity to make a name for himself during spring training. Still, the expectation is he will feature with AAA Scranton to start the year instead of immediately being called up.
When the Yankees eventually promote Volpe to the majors, it will be interesting to see his role alongside Peraza. It is possible that he takes over at shortstop and Peraza moves to second base, but Volpe could end up featuring at 2B, allowing the Yankees to trade Gleyber Torres and plug a different position where reinforcements are needed.
The Bombers seem to be investing a lot in their youth prospects. While we are expecting them to perform adequately at the next level over a much larger sample size, it is essential to note that they are inexperienced and will likely start the season at a slower pace, growing into themselves with more reps.