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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 87: Wilber Pérez

The Kodi Medeiros-Pérez pairing made for a pretty nice haul in exchange for Joakim Soría last summer

Theoretically: Wilber Pérez could be in this spring training shot. In all practical terms, he’s not. Sorry, I tried.
Kim Contreras (@Cu_As)/South Side Sox

Wilber Perez
170 pounds
Throws: Right
Age: 21
SSS rank among all right-handed starters in the system: 18

Pérez was the much less heralded prospect the White Sox received from the Brewers on July 26, as part of the Joakim Soria deal. However, as often turns out to be the case, his career may eventually surpass of the higher-touted prospect — in this case, southpaw Kodi Medeiros. Of course, only time will tell, but Pérez certainly had a nifty season this year in his native Dominican Republic.

Pérez signed a minor league deal as a 19-year-old with the Brewers on July 10, 2017, and ultimately pitched in nine relief outings last year for their DSL squad. Although he enjoyed a respectable 3.45 ERA in his 15 1⁄3 innings of work, Pérez’s other results were rather mediocre: 1.72 WHIP, 18 hits allowed (.281 OBA), nine walks (12.3 BB%) and 16 strikeouts (21.9 K%).

In 2018, in eight starts for the DSL Brewers encompassing 40 1⁄3 innings, Pérez’s results dramatically improved: 2.01 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 25 hits (.177 OBA), 13 walks (8.0 BB%) and 47 strikeouts (29.0 K%).

After being traded to the White Sox, Pérez picked up right where he left off. In six outings (five starts), Pérez pitched 30 innings, allowing just 18 hits (.188 OBA) and eight walks (7.0 BB%) while striking out 28 (24.6 K%). His combined results for 2018 were terrific: 70 1⁄3 innings, 44 hits, 21 walks and 75 strikeouts, with a 1.92 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Of course, his results should be taken with a grain of salt, as he was 1.6 years older than the league average.

Because Pérez wasn’t a heralded prospect when he signed with the Brewers in 2017, and also because he’s pitched exclusively in the Dominican League during his brief career, scouting information on him is quite scarce. According to Baseball Prospectus, Pérez has a 88-91 mph fastball with a cutter, curve and changeup. It’s possible that his fastball could project higher, as he gets older and heavier.

Regardless, Pérez’s results indicate that his repertoire is clearly working. Lefties batted .160 against his offerings this year, while righties batted just .187 — the numbers indicate that his change and cutter were both quite effective. It’s not necessarily how hard a pitcher throws that determines his effectiveness, but a combination of several things: movement, location, speed variation between the fastball and off-speed pitches, and focus. Based on relatively small sample sizes, Pérez seems to have these assets, in spades.

Pérez should begin the 2019 season with the AZL White Sox, with a chance for early promotion to Great Falls halfway through the season, due to his age. Then, if all goes well, he’d be ticketed for Kannapolis in 2020.

Pérez’s success next year may play a pivotal role toward determining whether he will have a future in the back end of a rotation, or destined instead as a long or middle reliever, where his fastball could receive an uptick. His upside seems to be a pitcher like Spencer Adams — a back-end starter, due to solid control and a nice arsenal of pitches. Pérez’s floor seems to be someone be like Juan Minaya — with better control, but a less dynamic fastball.

2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP