- Full name Cionel Felix Pérez
- Born 04/21/1996 in La Habana, Cuba
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 175 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- Debut 07/11/2018
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: Perez was one of the best young pitchers in Cuba's Serie Nacional as an 18-year-old. The Astros ended up slashing Perez's bonus from $5.15 million to $2 million because of a concern about his elbow. The elbow hasn't been an issue since, and Perez made his major league debut in July. Track Record: Although he primarily started in the minors, the skinny Perez fits best as a reliever with the ability to work multiple innings if needed. He attacks hitters with a swing-and-miss, plus-plus fastball that sits 94-96 mph and touches 98 mph, although it sometimes tails off in longer outings. His fastball pairs well with a mid-80s, above-average breaking ball that he manipulates. When he wants to, he can sweep it across the zone early in counts, and he can also throw it with a shorter, harder downward break when he is later in counts or facing a lefthanded. Perez's changeup doesn't do much. It lacks separation or late movement and is a show-me pitch thrown away to righthanded hitters just to set up inside fastballs. Perez had some bouts with wildness, but he generally throws strikes and projects to have average control.
The Future: Perez should fit into the big league bullpen. He has the arm and feel to be a high-leverage reliever because of the quality of his fastball.
Perez was one of the most productive young pitchers in Cuba, pitching well for the 18U team and posted a Serie Nacional-best 2.08 ERA as an 18-year-old. The Astros originally signed him at $5.15 million, but reduced the bonus to $2 million after the team was concerned with an issue with his elbow. Perez's fastball has gotten stronger and stronger. He touched 95 early on, but sits more in the 90-93 mph range generally. His slider has sharpened since he signed. Its depth and tilt is only average but he locates it well. He also throws a slow fringy curveball and a promising changeup that has above-average potential. Perez's stuff all plays up because he has above-average command and control. He had a rough, brief intro to Double-A at the end of the season but will return there in 2018. Perez had to be added to the Astros' 40-man roster because of his voided contract--he would have been Rule 5 eligible otherwise. Perez's fastball/slider combo would work as a reliever, but he'll try to improve the changeup enough to stick as a starter.
Minor League Top Prospects
Perez was one of the breakout pitchers in the Texas League this season, striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings and finishing the year as one of only two TL pitchers to complete at least 40 innings with an ERA below 2.00. As a reward for his efforts, and to give the Astros another intriguing lefthanded arm for their postseason run, Perez is currently in the Astros’ bullpen, where he has made several relief appearances with varying success. With Corpus Christi, however, Perez made 11 starts and just five relief appearances. As a starter, his fastball mostly sits 90-94 mph, and his slider took steps forward into potentially being a plus pitch. He is still working on a changeup, which will be crucial to his development as a starter. Perez also needs to improve his control to remain an effective starting option, although it’s clear he has a fairly safe fallback option as a fastball-slider lefthanded reliever.
The first time Perez was promoted to Houston this year, he was sent back to Double-A Corpus Christi without ever throwing a pitch. He’s been brought back up for a second stint in the Astros bullpen and now has a chance to play a useful role in helping the Astros try to repeat as world champions. Perez has the stuff to be a big league starter one day, as his changeup has improved to the point where it is a viable fringe-average third pitch. His 93-97 mph fastball and hard-slider combo can eat up lefties, as Double-A lefties managed just one extra-base hit against him in 44 at-bats.
As a teenager in a pitching-depleted Serie Nacional league in Cuba, Perez quickly developed into one of the league's better starting pitchers. Pitching for Matanzas in his final season in Serie Nacional (2014-15), Perez posted a 2.06 ERA in 87.1 innings over 17 starts with 76 strikeouts and 32 walks. After Perez left Cuba, he originally signed with the Astros for $5.15 million in October 2016, but the Astros voided that contract after his physical due to an issue they saw in his left elbow, though Perez claims to be asymptomatic. He re-signed with the Astros in December for $2 million. A small, athletic lefty with a quick arm, Perez in Cuba threw a fastball that mostly ranged from 88-93 mph and touched 94, often sitting around 88-91 mph as a starter and touching the higher end out of relief. After leaving Cuba, he has hit 96 mph. He lacked a true out pitch in Cuba, leaning on a fringy, threequarters breaking ball at 74-80 mph that blended between a slider and a curveball. Reports from scouts who saw Perez after leaving Cuba were more encouraging, with his slider flashing average. He didn't throw a changeup in Cuba but has added that to his repertoire, so the development of that pitch will be key for him. He should be ready for an assignment to a low or high Class A affiliate, with a chance to be a back-end starter but a good chance he ends up a reliever.