Perdomo on cusp of making an impact in Majors

Big lefty: 'This is definitely the closest I’ve felt to the big leagues'

March 8th, 2020

PHOENIX -- Left-hander stands 6-foot-8 according to the Brewers' media guide, and, yes, he’s been asked this question before.

Did he ever play basketball?

No, Perdomo says. Didn’t play volleyball, either. Or any of the other sports in which his height would give him a marked advantage. Perdomo, 25, one of the young pitchers in Brewers camp who has made an impression on manager Craig Counsell, has always played baseball. There are positives and negatives for a player who is Perdomo’s size.

“My advantage is my angle,” he said via translator Carlos Brizuela. “A ball from so high, coming down, it’s a good angle and makes it hard on hitters. The disadvantage is that I’m slow.”

What about the mechanics of his delivery?

“I just have to make sure I work on my stability and balance,” Perdomo said. “That’s the main thing. I did feel better [last season]. The more I was out there, the better.”

Perdomo was out there again for the Brewers in Sunday’s 7-3 split-squad victory over the Angels, striking out Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Jason Castro in a scoreless sixth inning. It gave him 10 strikeouts of the first 15 batters he's faced in his second Spring Training with the Brewers -- who signed him to a Minor League contract in November 2018 and added him to the 40-man roster a year later.

The Dominican native posted impressive strikeout numbers last season, when he pitched seven times for Double-A Biloxi before spending the bulk of the season (40 appearances, 54 innings) at Triple-A San Antonio. In 69 1/3 innings in all, Perdomo struck out 107 batters. He finished with a 4.28 ERA.

“This is definitely the closest I’ve felt to the big leagues,” Perdomo said. “After last year, all the work I put in and all the adjustments I’ve made, this is the closest I’ve felt.”

Perdomo isn’t the only Brewers pitching prospect getting close to the Majors, and he plays for the right team. The Brewers set a franchise record by using 30 different pitchers in 2017, then matched the mark in '18 and again in '19. With pitchers shuttling up and down between Milwaukee and the Minor Leagues, Counsell has a full complement of arms more nights than not -- and he has shown a willingness to give an opportunity to unproven players. Think Josh Hader in '17, Corbin Burnes in '18 and Adrian Houser in '19. 

Who will be that breakout pitcher in 2020? Perdomo is a candidate. So are Clayton Andrews, Zack Brown, Jesus Castillo, J.P. Feyereisen, Thomas Jankins, Drew Rasmussen, Miguel Sanchez and Trey Supak. Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s first-round Draft pick in 2019, probably needs more time, but he was another young pitcher who gained experience in big league camp.

“There’s no question that over the last two weeks,” Counsell said, “one of the things you start to think about is, ‘All right, this group of players is not going to break camp with us, and they shouldn’t. They’re not ready to start the season in the Major Leagues. But who in June or July are going to be the players we’re talking about?’

“I definitely find myself asking that. The second half of these games, that’s probably the thought that dominates my head. Who are the players who are going to help us in the second half of the season? You probably keep it internal, but you start developing a group of names that there’s reason to think will help us at some point this year.

“The big deal is, look, we have brought a whole bunch of players to the big leagues the last two years. There’s not a player right now like Keston [Hiura] last year. We don’t have that coming this year to impact us. But I am actually excited about some of the pitchers we’ve seen that I think can provide us some impact. There’s a big enough group of them that somebody is going to take a step forward and help us. A bullpen guy, I think. Somebody can have a pretty significant impact for us in the second half of the year.”

Perhaps it will be Perdomo. Log a bit of big league time, and maybe folks will stop asking if he’s a basketball player. For now, he still gets asked that a lot.

“Or,” he said, “they just look up and look at me weird.”