Delvin Perez Feels Like A New Player
It had been more than a year since some of his teammates last saw the lean shortstop prospect who didn’t have the strength to hoist himself to the next level.
And if they didn’t catch the social media peeks into his workout, spring was the first time they realized how big a change 22-year-old Delvin Perez made.
“No more skinny guy,” one said to him.
Perez flexed with a grin.
“I’m a new player,” he said.
Perez, the 2016 first-round pick out of high school in Puerto Rico, reported to his first big league camp with shoulders that could fill out his jersey and a thicker-barreled bat to match his forearms.
Having matured into his frame and added nearly 20 pounds, Perez’s 14 months of work resulted in an impressive spring. He learned that the added size did not lessen his speed or stiffen his play at shortstop.
One major league coach said: He’s “opening a lot of eyes.”
The Cardinals responded by challenging him with an aggressive assignment to Double-A Springfield—two levels higher than he had played.
Perez had spent most of his career as a 6-foot-3, 175-pound shortstop with slick defensive skills and questions at the plate. He struggled so much to keep weight on that at one point he dropped to 161 pounds.
When the pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season, Perez moved to Orlando and established a training regimen. When not working out, he watched video of how Mike Trout, Carlos Correa and Albert Pujols maintain their swings.
He kept the Cardinals updated on his progress and drew motivation from where he wasn’t: at the alternate training site or any prospect rankings.
“I want to prove them wrong,” he said.
At the time the Cardinals drafted him, the organization pledged patience to him. Theirs was tested. But this spring they saw return.
“If we had drafted him last year (at 21), would the player we see show up in spring training be someone we’re excited about,” assistant general manager Randy Flores said. “I think the answer is yes.”
— Masyn Winn, the 2020 second-rounder as both a shortstop and righthander, strated the season with Low-A Palm Beach as the everyday shortstop, focusing on the regimen and requirements of a position player. The Cardinals intend to explore a pitching plan for him later in the summer.
— Outfielder Nick Plummer, the 2015 first-rounder who had his career delayed and detoured by a wrist injury, spent January and February at the Cardinals’ hitting lab in Jupiter, Fla. His work there earned him a promotion to Double-A Springfield to start the year. He had three multi-hit games in his first six.