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Spring Training Notebook: Marlins Top Prospect Eury Perez Holds His Own



PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — I arrived at Marlins camp at 9:30 a.m. on Friday only to be greeted by the news I had hoped to receive from the moment I arrived in Florida.

Eury Perez was going to take the mount in the Double-A game. The 6-foot-8 teenager ranks 48th on the Baseball America Top 100 and No. 1 among Marlins prospects. And the “Double-A” Mets lineup he would face would include veteran major leaguers Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Eduardo Escobar.

Perez came out firing fastballs at 96-97 mph, going right after Brandon Nimmo in his first at-bat. Nimmo blooped a single over the shortstop to the opposite field for one of two balls that left the infield against Perez on the day. In his first inning of work he threw primarily fastballs and changeups, mixing in the curveball against a string of lefthanded batters.

He struggled in the second frame, walking a few batters and giving up a single before having the inning rolled. He did show a slider at 87-89 mph against righthanded batters. His breaking ball tunneled well off of his fastball and was difficult to differentiate out of the hand from his other pitches.

He settled down in his third inning of work, as he started to pitch more efficiently. He came out of the third inning sitting at 51 pitches. Scheduled for a 67-pitch limit, Perez came back out in the fourth and struck out Eduardo Escobar. Against Escobar, Perez started him off with a changeup that stole a strike on the outer half, then attacked Escobar with a fastball that was fouled off. A slider led Escobar to foul off on a check swing. Perez then went low and inside with a fastball that the veteran chipped foul on an ugly swing, before Perez froze him with a changeup that ran to the outer part of the plate for the strikeout looking.

Next came McNeil, who faced a series of fastballs, changeups and breakers to go down swinging. In Perez’s final at-bat of the day he faced the veteran Robinson Cano who hit a chopper to the second baseman. An error on the misplay allowed Cano to reach, but the inning was then rolled due to Perez reaching his pitch limit.

It was an impressive and composed performance by a pitcher who won’t turn 19 until next month. He mixed four pitches, held his velocity and didn't shy away from owning the inside part of the plate versus MLB vets, some 20 years his senior. He struggled at times to land his fastball and changeup arm side early but settled in after a rough second inning and found his groove.

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