Fernando Perez is a unique case out of Central Arizona CC (via Otay Ranch HS in Chula Vista, CA) who profiles intriguing skills as a third baseman. Though he’s a freshman in college, the left handed hitting Perez pulled a Bryce Harper and skipped his senior year to enter college early.
He’s only 18, but already has some polish in his game and put up solid numbers against players a full two or three years older than him this spring. Perez hit .341 this season, displaying above average power with 7 home runs and 51 RBIs while slugging .580 in a wooden bat league.
He stole 7 bases, but maybe the most eye-catching stat was his 11 triples. Perez showed the ability to consistently get on base, sporting an OBP of .400 flat and a walk rate of about 8%. Perez has great bat speed and raw power that has plenty of time to develop.
He should have the range to stay at third base in the future, something all of us Astros farm system enthusiasts will be happy to hear, but his arm strength is his best tool in the field. Perez is ranked #81 by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (ahead of Trey Williams, by the way) and ranked as the top overall draft-eligible JUCO player by Perfect Game USA.
If we consider Perez a high school player skill-wise, there’s a lot of raw power in his swing. Like pretty much every other player his age, there’s a possibility he could bottom out in the minors because of his bat. However, he’s held his own and a lot more this spring at the JUCO level, so I think there’s a good chance he makes the big leagues. He stands 6’2’’ (some sites have 6’1’’), so he could end up playing middle infield as well. Because of this, his floor value could come as a utility guy, so let’s go with Jose Vizcaino.
Though Perez was no Bryce Harper in terms of offense this spring at JUCO, he certainly performed well above his age. Best case scenario, Perez could make a handful of All-Star appearances and hit between 20-30 homers a season.
His on-base skills are what I really like about his game. I chose to profile Perez because he’s a third baseman, something the Astros desperately need more of in the system. He projects to be an above average fielder with the great arm and could steal 10-15 bases, giving the good guys a solid answer at the hot corner. At 6’2’’(ish) and 190 pounds, he has plenty of room to fill out and grow into a frame fully capable of playing third. Let’s say Eric Chavez as the ceiling.
Will he sign?
Again, Perez is an interesting case. He has just one year of JUCO eligibility left, but at 18, it’s possible he could grab a Division 1 offer next year and hone that raw power into a higher draft spot in the future. He probably won’t come at any discount, but he should be drafted high enough to earn a nice deal, so I do envision him signing.
Will the Astros draft him?
I really hope so. Perez seems to be a sleeper right now in this draft. He was just selected in Minor League Ball’s community draft by the Astros with pick #61. Perfect Game USA has him at #112. He certainly seems to have first round talent, though there hasn’t been much discussion about him there. Unless a team is secretly in love with his potential, he’ll go anywhere from the supplemental round to the 4th, and should be available when Houston picks at #41.
What the scouts have to say
Fernando Perez, 3b, Central Arizona: Graduated high school a semester early to challenge himself in JC this spring; assets include lefty swing, arm strength- baseball America Perez has risen to the top of that group, at least in the eyes of scouts and analysts dissecting the 2012 draft class. The 18-year-old is already a fairly polished player with a level of maturity that would seem to make him very adaptable to the junior college game and beyond.
“For Fernando, it really starts with the type of kid he is. He’s a tremendous young man,” Wente said. “He’s very polite, he’s very responsible, he knows what hard work it takes to be a quality baseball player – and he certainly has a tremendous talent. He’s just a well-rounded young man.”
Perez also performed well at the PG National Showcase and at the Area Code Games last summer. The PG scouting report from the National Showcase called Perez a “polished hitter with good balance and actions (who) can turn on the ball but stays back and lines the ball to left field.”
It also noted that Perez is a “polished player best appreciated over many games.”-Perfect Game USA
When Perez wasn’t going to be eligible to play at his high school in 2012, he left early to head to the junior college scene so he could be seen. Those who have gone to see Perez have done so because of his offensive potential. He has plus bat speed, with a quick swing that generates line drives to the gaps.
The ball jumps off Perez's bat, and he has easy power that could be above average in the future. His solid average arm and glove should be fine at third, and while his range is fringy, it should be enough for him to stay put. Perez's baseball instincts are above average, especially for his age.
Left-handed-hitting third basemen, especially those with this kind of power potential, are always intriguing, so it shouldn’t surprise many to see Perez’s name come off the board in the early going.- Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com