For Oswald Peraza, hits have been coming in bunches this season. Thursday night was the biggest crop yet.
“He’s worked so much,” Hudson Valley manager Dan Fiorito said after his team’s win. "In the offseason, just physically the way he came into camp this year, he looks great. At the end of the day when you watch him, the different way he can impact the game in every aspect has been so impressive. I think all the potential that he has, he’s got the potential to be a great big league shortstop. It’s been special to watch him, and the power’s come this year a little more often, too, which has been great.”
Peraza kicked off his big night with doubles in his first two trips to the plate, both in Hudson Valley’s seven-run bottom of the first. After leading off the game with a two-bagger to right field, Peraza came to the dish again as the lineup card turned over and drove in two runs with a double to left.
After striking out in the bottom of the third, his only time not reaching base on the night, Peraza reached on a pair of singles to shortstop in the fifth and seventh. The 20-year-old then added his final hit and RBI of the night on his third double, a liner to left in the bottom of the eighth for Hudson Valley’s last run. Peraza now has 12 extra-base hits of his 27 total this year.
“I think the biggest thing that stuck out when seeing Peraza as a young player was his bat-to-ball skills, his ability to play shortstop and the way he can run," Fiorito explained. "Now, the fact that the power’s coming has so much to do with our strength department and also the hitting department, some of the work that he’s done on his swing and his swing path, and it’s paying dividends right now.”
The performance was Peraza’s eighth multi-hit affair of the season in 21 games played and third with three hits or more. It’s not just knocks coming in waves for the shortstop, either. Peraza belted all five of his home runs for the season over four straight games from May 12-15, driving in eight runs in that span. Leading off this year, Peraza is batting .294/.368/.482. His Thursday performance was one hit better than a 4-for-6 day on May 9, also against Jersey Shore.
“He’s obviously one of our best hitters on our team here, and it’s been awesome to have him come up and set the tone for the team,” Fiorito said. “It’s a guy that we want up there in big spots, and fortunately in the leadoff role, he’s able to get a ton of at-bats for us.”
The 2021 season is Peraza’s first at High-A where he, like many players, would’ve been young for the level two years ago, before the elimination of short-season ball. Fiorito has been thrilled with the level of play this year.
“The talent is definitely there,” the manager said. “I think one thing, just the year off from baseball, to see the players and the shape they came into and the time that they were able to work on their craft, you can see the difference in a lot of the players. The talent is definitely there right now. It’s been fun to watch all teams competing out there right now. It’s great to have baseball back for these guys.”
Signed by the Yankees out of his native Venezuela in 2016, Peraza “has the best all-around tools among Yankees infield prospects” and “could have four plus tools once he's fully developed” according to MLB Pipeline’s evaluation. His manager agrees.
“The biggest thing for him is just keep working on his approach up at bat, controlling the zone," Fiorito said. "If he can just stay consistent with hitting balls hard like he’s been doing so far, he’s going to have a phenomenal year for us. The sky is the limit for him. It’s been a ton of fun to watch him play.”