Joe Perez Is Well Positioned For 2022

In 2017, the Astros spent their second-round pick on Florida prep Joe Perez, a promising two-way prospect with an uncertain future.

On draft night, the team acknowledged Perez needed Tommy John surgery. He got it the next day.

Shoulder surgery followed in 2018 and limited Perez to 50 games in 2019. The pandemic prevented Perez from playing any baseball in 2020 because the Astros did not invite him to their alternate training site.

A memorable 2021 made Perez a promising piece of Houston’s future, actualizing the potential it saw during the draft process. The 22-year-old third baseman ascended from Low-A Fayetteville to High-A Asheville to Double-A Corpus Christi.

Perez hit .291/.354/.495 with 18 home runs and 34 doubles in 106 games. The Astros protected him from Rule 5 draft selection by added him to their 40-man roster at the Nov. 19 reserve roster deadline.

Astros officials call Perez’s hit tool “real.” A scout who saw him regularly in 2021 described Perez as a “tough out” and wondered what he could provide if he more regularly taps into power some think could be above-average.

Perez’s swing allows for easy contact and his at-bat quality is excellent—two traits that will have to get even better for him to be an MLB regular. His value is tied exclusively to his righthanded bat.

Perez has far too many mishaps at third base to be a regular—and his range is suspect—but the former high school pitcher has an above-average arm. His accuracy improved throughout the 2021 season, but will need to improve even more.

The Astros will continue to push Perez at third base in 2022 but could soon introduce him to left field. He also plays first base, which could become a position of need in Houston because Yuli Gurriel turns 38 and 2022 and will be a free agent after the season. 

The Astros were right to buy into Perez’s draft-day upside. It just took a tad longer to manifest.

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