What you need to know about Eury Pérez's debut

May 12th, 2023

If the Marlins' efforts to commemorate the franchise's 30th anniversary weren't already special enough, top prospect is making his highly anticipated Major League debut while wearing the throwback teal pinstripe uniforms.

In a big night for South Florida sports, Pérez is facing the Reds live at loanDepot park on the same night the NBA's Miami Heat and the NHL's Florida Panthers are trying to advance to the next round of their respective postseason series.

Pérez, whom the Marlins signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic less than four years ago, has been on the fast track ever since. With Miami (19-19) keeping pace early on in the National League East, Pérez joins a young but talented rotation dealing with some injuries.

Here is the info you need for his debut:

How can fans watch the game?

If fans are unable to attend in person, the game is airing on Bally Sports Florida. It is also available to stream for free on MLB.TV.

What number is Pérez wearing?

Pérez is wearing No. 39 with the Marlins after wearing No. 30 at Double-A Pensacola and No. 76 during big league Spring Training.

How old is Pérez?

Pérez was born on April 15, 2003, during the first month of the Marlins' second World Series title run.

Why is Pérez such a big deal?

When your name is mentioned in the same sentence as the late José Fernández, you know your ceiling is high. At 20 years and 27 days old, Pérez will become the youngest pitcher in franchise history to make his Major League debut, surpassing Fernández (20 years, 250 days) in 2013.

As MLB Pipeline's No. 9 overall prospect, Pérez also is the highest-ranked Marlins pitching prospect since Fernández (No. 7 in 2013). Bypassing the Triple-A level is no small feat. Then again, the precocious Pérez is used to facing competition older than him. This season at Double-A Pensacola, he was more than four years younger than the batters he held to a .148 average.

"To have the body control, the coordination, the mobility, the flexibility, the power to repeat and do what he does, you don't find that, you don't see that," assistant director of international scouting David Hernandez Beayne said. "It is extremely rare. Normally you see that in smaller guys, but at his size [6-foot-8], it just doesn't happen. And that's what happens when you mix that size with that skill set. You get something special."

How long will Pérez pitch in his debut?

While manager Skip Schumaker wouldn't tip his hand as to what exactly the pitch and inning limits will be, the most pitches Pérez has thrown in a start is 90. He has completed six innings just four times in 44 career pro outings.

"We'll monitor it," Schumaker said. "We're going to protect him. There's no doubt about it. But we're going to try to win games, too. [He's] not just up here to have fun. We're going to protect him, use him the right way, because we know he has a bright future for this organization."

Added general manager Kim Ng: "This is going to be a situation where we are going to be watching him very closely and monitoring everything that goes on in the game -- what his pitch count is, how stressful those pitches have been. But it's going to be an entire group of people making sure that we do the best thing for him."

What can we expect from Pérez?

According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Pérez's fastball ranges from 94-97 mph and peaks at 100. His deceptive upper-80s changeup generates a high swing-and-miss rate, and his mid-80s slider grades as a plus pitch. Pérez has always pounded the zone, as evidenced by his career strikeout (12.6 K/9) and walk (2.9 BB/9) rates.

"I think we have to temper the expectations a little bit," Schumaker said. "He's 20 years old. He's supposed to be a junior in college, and he's going to be facing the Reds. I think we have to just slow down the expectations a little bit. But he's earned it. It's not just because we needed somebody. He's earned this position. I think that is what should be taken away. It's not just, 'Let's just see what this 20-year-old can do.' He's earned every bit of getting a promotion, and I think a lot of the guys in there are excited to see him walk through those doors."

Will Pérez slot right into the rotation and pitch every fifth day?

The ideal situation is for a top prospect to reach the Majors and remain there for good rather than going back and forth due to a lack of success.

"I'm not sure I'm willing to go out and commit to anything right now, but we do have a couple of starting pitchers on the IL [in Trevor Rogers and Johnny Cueto], so we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it," Ng said.

Pérez checked an important box his last time on the mound on Sunday, starting on regular four days' rest for the first time in his career. With a Major League five-man rotation, that is the norm. Ng said that there are enough off-days on the schedule that sometimes Pérez will wind up getting that extra day of rest anyways.

Who is Pérez's player comparison?

All Spring Training, teammates, coaches and front-office members alike teased Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara about his "son." Pérez, who trained over the offseason with the National League Cy Young Award winner and shares the same agent, followed him around like a shadow. There are worse people to emulate.

The pair has similar arsenals -- Pérez is merely missing Alcantara's sinker, the veteran quips. The 6-foot-8 Pérez also is one of the few people who makes the 6-foot-5 Alcantara look small.

Where is he from?

Pérez is from Santiago -- the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic -- in the neighborhood of Villa Liberación, La Otra Banda. At 8 years old, He was playing plaquita with his friends near the family's apartment. For his 11th birthday, Pérez asked his mother, Xiomara, if he could play organized baseball. It was at the Emilio Domínguez Liga that trainer Alexander De Aza saw Pérez and brought him over to his academy.

How did the Marlins acquire him?

The Red Sox and Rockies had previously been in on Pérez, but concerns emanating from his physical had them moving on. One day after trying out for the Angels, Pérez pitched for the Marlins at their old DR Academy in Santo Domingo. Facing five batters, including future prospects Jose Salas and Ian Lewis, Pérez didn't allow a hit on 25 pitches. His name was the first brought up in a post-tryout conference, and the Marlins were able to woo him away from the Angels by signing him for $200,000.