Marlins' No. 1 prospect throws heat in 1st live BP
Emulating Alcantara, Eury Pérez hits 99 mph, impresses opposing hitters
JUPITER, Fla. -- Count the 2022 American League batting champion among right-hander Eury Pérez's growing list of fans.
Ranked as Miami's top prospect (MLB Pipeline's No. 13 overall), Pérez threw his first live batting practice of big league camp on Monday morning at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Following their matchup, offseason acquisition Luis Arraez provided the teenager with some feedback.
"I don't tell him too much, but he's nasty," Arraez said. "He looks like a veteran there. I know he's [like] Sandy [Alcantara's] son, so he tried to follow Sandy, and he's nasty. I just talked about the changeup. He threw me one changeup -- the first one was bad -- but the last one was a beautiful changeup to roll over. He almost broke my bat. I never break bats sometimes. He almost broke my bat. He's nasty."
During the 25-pitch live BP, Pérez maxed out at 99 mph and threw everything in his arsenal, focusing on landing his slider and changeup in the zone. The day before, he watched his mentor do the same thing while facing the likes of Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the same back field.
According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Pérez's slider (60) and changeup (70) are plus offerings on the 20-80 grading sale. His upper-80s changeup generated a 61 percent swing-and-miss rate in 2022 due to its fade and tumble, while the mid-80s slider debuted and showed more consistency than his curveball.
"It's just a matter of attacking the zone," Pérez said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. "It's something that I always see from him, and it just stayed in there. That way you know the batters can do their job and I'll do mine and just continue doing that."
Catching Pérez was his Double-A Pensacola batterymate Paul McIntosh. The trust and familiarity they’ve already established was helpful as Pérez faced Major Leaguers in Arraez, non-roster invite Alex De Goti, Jacob Stallings and Nick Fortes.
Sitting behind home plate were principal owner Bruce Sherman, general manager Kim Ng, baseball consultant Terry Collins and manager Skip Schumaker, who was eager to see the teenager pitch. There was a similar energy to when Alcantara took the mound the day before.
"I haven't seen Pérez other than the bullpens or [Minor League] video," Schumaker said before the session. "So I'm excited to see what he's going to do. I also don't want him to get too excited and feel like he has to throw 102 mph against Jazz. Trying to pull back a little bit with some of these young guys, and don't feel like they have to impress too much [on] February 20, is important."
Veteran Johnny Cueto, who opened the live BP session, was impressed. Miami's offseason acquisition couldn't believe Pérez doesn't turn 20 until April 15. He pitches beyond his young age.
"He had good stuff. Good repertoire," Cueto said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. "The talent this guy has is amazing. We'd love to see him at the big league level at some point."
Pérez called it exciting to have "talented people" watching him pitch. He hoped to receive advice from those extra eyes, which he would put to work his next time on the mound. His first MLB Spring Training is about soaking up the experience while also giving the club something to think about when it decides who breaks camp.
"It feels great facing these batters," Pérez said. "It feels a little bit like the big leagues, but it's something that you've got to continue working and facing these batters, and it feels amazing."