Under the Radar details players in the Chicago White Sox system who may have suffered setbacks, gotten lost in the shuffle, or just haven’t surfaced as significant prospects as of yet. Next up is Andrew Perez, who has asserted himself quickly into the future White Sox bullpen picture.
Andrew Perez (LHRP) Kannapolis Intimidators
Andrew Perez, a native of Orlando, dominated his senior season with Timber Creek H.S., to the tune of a 1.95 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 51 2⁄3 innings. Staying in-state to pitch for the University of South Florida, he struggled to adjust to a bullpen role for the Bulls as he posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.89 ERA — allowing 26 walks and 32 hits in his 30 2⁄3 innings of work. However, Perez rebounded well in his sophomore and junior seasons by throwing more strikes. Over his final two years, his ERA and WHIP improved to 2.53 and 1.13, respectively, by allowing just 62 hits and 30 walks over his 81 2⁄3 innings while striking out 102 hitters and saving 18. Due in part to these improvements, in addition to a spike in velocity, the White Sox selected him in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Perez made quick work of Pioneer League hitters in his four-game stint with Great Falls by posting a 1.42 ERA and 0.47 WHIP in 6 1⁄3 innings of work, allowing just three hits (.136 OBA) and no walks while striking out seven (31.8%).
He was promoted to Kannapolis on June 29, where he was 1.9 years younger than league average. In 16 games totaling 25 innings for the Intimidators, the lefty posted a respectable 2.88 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in allowing 21 hits (.233 OBA) and walking 13 hitters (11.7%) while striking out 24 (21.6%). He may have been battling fatigue with Kannapolis — his 2018 innings between college and professional surpassed his two previous years combined — causing him to lose a bit of control as a result.
Perez’s fastball, which was up to 90 mph during his prep days, spiked to the mid 90’s by the time he was a college junior. His repertoire also includes a nifty 11-5 curveball, which he’s managed to keep down, and a fringy changeup which can improve if he improves his arm speed. He has a low-effort, three-quarter delivery which makes him difficult for lefties to pick up. He hasn’t been treated as a LOOGY to date, as he pitched 31 1⁄3 innings during his combined 20 games with Great Falls and Kannapolis. Lefties batted just .184 against his offerings, while righties fared a bit better at .230, which still isn’t too shabby. If Perez can improve upon his changeup, he could have high-leverage potential.
Perez is quite an intriguing pitcher, as he turned 21 just over two months ago. I believe he’ll begin 2019 with Winston-Salem, but wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to Kannapolis instead. Perez is quite projectionable, as a result of his age and his build (six-foot-two, 196 pounds).
There’s no need to rush him, due to the southpaw bullpen depth in the White Sox system. Things may change in a couple years, but the White Sox have several southpaw relievers who will be pitching in High-A ball and up in 2019: Jace Fry, Caleb Frare, Aaron Bummer, Colton Turner, Hunter Schryver, Kyle Kubat, Bennett Sousa, and Kevin Escorcia (this doesn’t even include Kodi Medeiros or Ian Clarkin, who could eventually move to bullpen roles). That’s a tough list to beat out, but I believe Perez is up to the task. Even if he is blocked at some point, he could be traded when the White Sox’s contention window finally arrives.
This is the last “Under the Radar” article for 2018, but I eagerly anticipate starting up again next July, when all minor league teams are in full swing. Despite the struggles at the major league level and the injuries suffered in the minors, the White Sox finally have an exceptionally deep system, and it’s been fun to write about these young athletes!