Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, shortstop Delvin Perez just wrapped his second professional season in 2017, splitting it between two rookie levels: the Gulf Coast League‘s GCL Cardinals, and the Appalachian League‘s Johnson City Cardinals. In 34 total games split between those two affiliates, Perez slashed .203/.314/.271/.585 over 118 at-bats, with two doubles, three triples, five stolen bases, 17 walks, and 24 strikeouts. Set to turn 19 next month (DOB: November 24, 1998), Perez seems a solid bet to head back to short-season ball at one of the club’s rookie-level affiliates again in 2018, where he’ll need to prove he can make wholesale adjustments at the plate before he’s ready to face full-season pitching.
That said, Delvin Perez is arguably one of the best middle infield defenders I saw at any level across the entirety of the 2017 season, with good foot speed and anticipation, quick footwork, soft hands, a reliable glove at shortstop, and more than enough arm strength to stick at the position long term. Still a teenager, and listed at 6’3″, 175 lbs. (in reality, Perez almost certainly weighs fifteen or twenty pounds less than that), there’s ample room and time for significant growth here for the St. Louis Cardinals prospect. Below, you’ll find our full Delvin Perez scouting report from watching him during the summer, including game video, tool grades, projection notes, and more.
Delvin Perez, St. Louis Cardinals — 2017 Scouting Report
Dates observed in 2017: July 24-25
Delvin Perez Scouting Report — 2017 Game Video
Delvin Perez Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
Simply put, it’ll be fascinating to follow Delvin Perez over the next few years. I struggle to think of anyone I saw in 2017 more polar-opposite in his offensive profile being so far behind his defensive talent. Along with Rockies infield prospect Garrett Hampson, Perez is by far the most naturally talented catch-and-throw prospect I saw over a few hundred games this year — and, yet, the rookie ball shortstop is also arguably the worst frontline prospect I observed bat in that same span. That’s a hell of a one-two combo.
Ultimately, his long-term projection is likely to be found somewhere in between the two extremes of defensive superhero and offensive black hole… though maybe not by much. In all likelihood, Delvin Perez will be nearly big league ready at shortstop next year, even though he’s never going to amount to very much on offense. What do the St. Louis Cardinals do with that? Perez plays a premium position with ample value even if he never hits, but it’ll be interesting to see how they construct a lineup around him as he begins to reach the big league radar. They’re not the first team to deal with a problem like this, of course, but Perez’s ascension will make things interesting in St. Louis a few years from now.
Delvin Perez Scouting Report — Future Projection
I’m interested to see where Delvin Perez ends up next summer. Most of me assumes he’ll re-do rookie ball again, perhaps full-time in Johnson City this time, but a small part wouldn’t be surprised if the St. Louis Cardinals test him at Low-A, if only to continue his path against better opponents while perhaps realizing that, hey, his bat may never really come around. Perez is still very young, so there’s no reason to rush him, but his defensive profile is so exceptional that the Cardinals might be tempted to push a bit, and I couldn’t say I’d blame them if they did. As I mentioned, an Andrelton Simmons comp is a best-case scenario (and may even be over-shooting quite a bit offensively), but there’s considerable risk here and a non-zero chance Perez flames out in the upper minors or settles in as an up-and-down defensive specialist with the St. Louis Cardinals if he can’t figure it out at the plate.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Ceiling as first-division everyday regular as an elite defender at the bottom of the lineup. High risk; possibility to fall into up-and-down/bench depth role without wholesale improvements at the plate (45/50)
MLB ETA: 2021