In the aftermath of the community prospect rankings wrapping up, we continue our write-ups for each Ranger prospect who finished in the top 25. Once again, I issue my usual caveat that I have no first-hand information about these guys, but am simply offering capsule scouting reports for each player based on the info that is out there...
After the jump, we continue by taking a look at the #10 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, righthanded pitcher David Perez...
David Perez is a 6'5", 200 lb. righthanded pitcher who turned 19 last month, and who made his stateside debut in the Northwest League in 2011. Perez was signed out of the Dominican Republic for a bonus of $425,000 in 2009 -- a not-insignificant amount, but not the top of eye-popping bonus that the top J2 guys usually get.
Perez pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 as a 17 year old and put up astounding numbers -- 68 strikeouts in 70 innings against just 8 walks, with no home runs and just 50 hits allowed, good for a 1.41 ERA. That sort of performance, together with the encouraging scouting reports, had Rangers prospectphiles salivating over the prospect of Perez pitching in the U.S. in 2011.
The Rangers, as is their tendency with their most highly-touted teenagers, decided to have Perez skip the complex league last summer and instead start out with Spokane in the Northwest League, a short-season league populated primarily by 21 and 22 year olds who generally have a few years of college ball under their belts. It was an aggressive assignment for Perez -- he was the third youngest player on an NWL Opening Day roster, and the two players ahead of him were also Ranger prospects, catcher Jorge Alfaro and second baseman Rougned Odor.
While there were flashes, overall Perez struggled mightily against the heightened competition. In 30.1 innings over 13 games, Perez did strike out 43 batters, an extremely impressive total. But Perez also walked 29 batters (while giving up 25 hits), hit 8 batters, and threw 7 wild pitches, resulting in an 8.60 ERA and the type of stat line that Nuke LaLoosh would be familiar with.
Perez didn't make the Northwest League top 20 list, but there is still enthusiasm about him among the prospectphiles. He gets good reviews for having a projectable pitcher's build, and his fastball, even when he was struggling in Spokane, was getting into the upper 90s, and he's reportedly touched 98 mph before with his fastball. His curve is also seen as a potential plus pitch, while his changeup falls in the "work in progress" category. The knock on Perez this past summer was that his inconsistent mechanics were throwing off his command, a not-uncommon problem for a young, tall pitcher like Perez to have as he learned to repeat his delivery.
What does 2012 hold for Perez? Normally, I'd say that Perez will end up in Hickory in the Sally League, but given Perez's struggles in Spokane in 2011, unless he shows significant progress this spring, he could well be ticketed to return to the Northwest League when they kick off in late June. Whichever league he is in, the goal is going to be improved command and dropping the walk total.
What sort of ceiling does Perez have? With his velocity and a secondary pitch that profiles as a plus offering, Perez has top-of-the-rotation potential. In his write-ups this summer, looking at a potential future 25 man roster made up entirely of players in the Ranger minor league system, Jamey Newberg had Perez as his #2 starter. Perez probably has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Rangers system...he's the type of pitcher you can dream about. But he's a long way away, and has a long road to travel to reach that potential.