Yankees call up prized SS Peraza: 'It's very exciting'

September 3rd, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- One day after receiving congratulatory hugs in the dugout from his Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammates and hustling to board a flight, Oswald Peraza beamed in the Yankees clubhouse on Friday afternoon, ready to try on a big league uniform for the first time.

The 22-year-old Peraza was promoted on Thursday as one of the Yankees’ September callups. He is rated as the Yanks' No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline and ranks No. 53 on the Top 100 Prospects list.

“You’re short for words when you hear that you’re finally going to the big leagues and you might have an opportunity to play short for the Yankees,” Peraza said through an interpreter. “You think about the path and all the different levels to get here. I’ve been playing this sport since I was a little kid. It’s very exciting.”

Peraza was not in the Yankees’ lineup on Friday night, but he did enter the game as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the top of the ninth, striking out on three pitches to end a 9-0 loss to the Rays in his Major League debut.

Manager Aaron Boone said that he still considers as the Yanks’ starting shortstop, and there is no set plan for how many games Peraza might play. Boone said that he would consider playing Peraza at second base, and Peraza may start somewhere in the field on Saturday.

“We’ll just kind of keep it fluid, and probably try and maybe get him in there [Saturday],” Boone said. “But we’re trying to win, and hopefully he can be a part of that.”

Becoming the first Yankees big leaguer born in the 2000s (June 15, 2000), Peraza has been touted for an enticing blend of power at the plate, speed on the basepaths and smooth glovework in the infield.

In 99 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Peraza has slashed .259/.329/.448 with 57 runs scored, 16 doubles, 19 homers and 50 RBIs, all while stealing 33 bases in 38 attempts. He has walked 34 times against 100 strikeouts.

Since Peraza was on the Yankees' 40-man roster prior to Thursday, he would be eligible for inclusion on any of the team's postseason rosters. Peraza has seen plenty of familiar faces in the Yankees’ clubhouse, including infielder/outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera, who has already made an impact during his brief time in the Majors.

“I’m so focused on my work and development, my day-to-day responsibilities,” Peraza said. “You focus on that and the training, what we’re working on. At the same time, to see fellow teammates make it to the big leagues, it’s also their dream to make it to the big leagues. You feel joy and happiness for them because they’ve been working hard to get to this level.”

A product of Venezuela, Peraza signed with the Yankees in July 2016 for $175,000. His breakout season was 2021, when he reached Triple-A while slashing .297/.356/.477 with 18 homers and a system-best 38 steals in 115 games.

New York was off on Thursday after dropping four of seven games to the Athletics and Angels. Kiner-Falefa committed a costly error in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Angel Stadium, setting up Shohei Ohtani's pivotal three-run homer off Gerrit Cole.

Boone said that he spoke to Kiner-Falefa about the Yanks’ decision to promote Peraza.

“Izzy is such a big part of what we’re doing, and I expect him to continue to be right in the middle of everything we’re doing,” Boone said. “The best part about Isiah is he wants to win. He’ll do anything it takes to be prepared. He’s going to continue to play a lot.”

A division lead that once stood at 15 1/2 games has been trimmed to just five, coming off a 10-18 August that marked the Yankees' weakest showing since September 1991.

With rosters expanding from 26 to 28 players, the Yankees also announced on Thursday that they reinstated utility player Marwin Gonzalez from the paternity list. Gonzalez was absent for the three-game series against the Angels.

Asked if Peraza could play himself into a starting role, Boone said: “We’ll see. He’ll get some opportunities, but I don’t want to put any undue expectations on him. This is a great opportunity for him to get up here and be in this environment. Hopefully it will be another step in his development.”