Marlins' top prospect to debut Friday as youngest pitcher in team history

May 11th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Since skyrocketing into the conversation of top prospects in baseball, right-hander Eury Pérez has drawn comparisons to Marlins ace . It’s only fitting that Alcantara, Pérez’s mentor, was the one to deliver Wednesday’s big news.

In a video uploaded by the Marlins’ Twitter account, Pérez entered Double-A Pensacola manager Kevin Randel’s office and was told they had to go over a few things before his promotion to Triple-A Jacksonville.

A clip of Pérez pitching was then interrupted by a video of Alcantara.

"I have bad news for you," Alcantara said in Spanish. "I am going to have to see your face every day now. My brother, do you think you are ready to pitch in the Majors? I'm happy for you, an opportunity well deserved. I'll see you soon. Love you, man."

Pérez will make his Major League debut at 6:40 p.m. ET on Friday against the Reds at loanDepot Park, becoming the youngest pitcher in franchise history (20 years, 27 days old). He will surpass José Fernández (20 years, 250 days) in 2013.

“Exciting for him, exciting for the organization,” manager Skip Schumaker said following the Marlins’ 5-4 victory over the D-backs. “Our top prospect has a bright future. Enormous talent. We're looking forward to seeing him take the mound. It's going to be a really exciting time for the organization to see him walk through that clubhouse, and for us.”

In his second season at Double-A Pensacola, Pérez had gone 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA and an 0.81 WHIP in six starts. Over his last four outings, he had taken it to another level, giving up just three runs with five walks and 30 strikeouts across 22 innings for a 1.23 ERA.

The Marlins had sent Pérez back to the Blue Wahoos rather than the Jumbo Shrimp in order to work on the finer parts of his game like fielding and holding runners.

Plus, the schedule for a Triple-A rotation can be unstable with guys shuttling back and forth between the Minors and Majors. As recently as April 30, director of Minor League operations Hector Crespo told that there had been conversations about when Pérez would receive a promotion.

On top of Pérez’s performance, the organization’s decision to promote him was facilitated by left-hander Trevor Rogers and right-hander Johnny Cueto remaining on the injured list for the foreseeable future.

“I think there was a need for him up here,” general manager Kim Ng said. “I also think when you're looking at him, he's throwing all his pitches for strikes, is commanding his pitches, and so those are the things that you really make sure that he can do before he gets here. He's shown that, so we're fine with him coming up.”

Signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Pérez has been on the fast track ever since. Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 overall prospect and No. 3 right-hander, the 6-foot-8, 220-pounder didn’t make his pro debut until ‘21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After compiling a 1.61 ERA in 15 starts for the Single-A Jupiter Hammerheads, Pérez received a promotion to High-A Beloit for five starts before the season ended. In 2022, he faced competition more than five years older than him at Double-A, making a midsummer appearance at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game but also missing two months due to a lat strain.

Pérez returned in time to help the Blue Wahoos win the Southern League championship. Miami then invited Pérez to his first big league Spring Training, where he appeared in four Grapefruit League games.

According to MLB Pipeline’s scouting report, Pérez's combination of size, stuff, maturity and polish is tough to top, starting with a fastball that parks at 94-97 mph and peaks at 100 mph. His deceptive upper-80s changeup generated a 61 percent swing-and-miss rate in 2022, while his mid-80s slider became a plus pitch more consistently than his curveball.

Bypassing the Triple-A level isn’t as unique as it once was, but it’s still quite the leap. Are there concerns about how the 20-year-old will fare? The most pitches Pérez has thrown in a game is 90, and he has completed six innings just four times in his pro career.

“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,” Ng said. “But it's going to be an entire group of people making sure that we do the best thing for him.”