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  • Cory Claus

Yankees’ Oswald Peraza is Earning His Stripes

The Yankees are in the middle of a youth movement. But they’re not just giving players like Austin Wells and Oswaldo Cabrera occasional at-bats, they’ve made them fixtures in the lineup. As often happens, most of the young players are struggling. They’re showing glimpses of potential but nothing that screams reliable starter. Now, however, Oswald Peraza has started to hit and hit well. If he keeps going, his bat and all-star-caliber defense will make him a mainstay for years to come.

Yankees Stadium

The Yankees are both being and becoming.

They still have things to play for, including an incredibly long shot to make the playoffs. That’s not all they have to play for, though. As Jeff Nelson pointed out during a game against the Pirates, the Yanks want to keep their streak of finishing over .500 going. More importantly, they want to finish ahead of the Red Sox.

But they’re also looking ahead to next season. They’ve promoted a host of prospects to see who can make it at the big league level and who is the next Estevan Florial. Jasson Dominguez already showed he’s the real deal before going down to injury. Others haven’t been so successful, yet.

The Kids Are Not Alright

C Austin Wells is hitting just .118/.162/.176, while OF Everson Pereira is slashing a meager .143/.241/.186. That line has led to Pereira being benched the last two games. But it’s not unusual for rookies to struggle in their first round in the bigs. Mickey Mantle, for instance, was only batting .211/.268/.289 after his first ten games, and he worked out okay.

But one young man has started to hit and hit well: Oswald Peraza.

Peraza seemed like a can’t-miss prospect coming out of the minors. That’s partially true because he plays gold-glove caliber defense at short, a position he’s likely to reclaim next season. He’s improved his chances of making the club next year by also playing third and second this year, although he’s not the long-term answer at third. He can make all the plays, but not all the throws.

The other big reason is the bat Peraza swung in the minors. Two years ago as he moved from High-A to Triple-A, he hit .297/.356/.477. He also belted out 18 home runs and 26 doubles all at the tender age of 21. That added up to a delightful OPS of .834.

He looked every bit as good if not better over his 18 games with the Yankees last season. Then he hit a tantalizing .306/.404/.429 with an .832 OPS. He didn’t look like the player of the future, he looked like the shortstop of right now.

Then a funny thing happened on his way to the Show: he got beat out in Spring Training by Anthony Volpe. Volpe has shown he can play with the big boys, but he hasn’t been the offensive superstar he was in March.

Peraza, by all accounts, kept his head up and his bat strong. His batting average was down a little to .268, but his OBP and power numbers never wavered, at .357 and .479.

Those numbers are the best of his career.

But his playing time in the Bronx was limited and sporadic. And his numbers reflect that. He’s only hitting .209/.284/.276 in pinstripes this year with a .560 OPS. Those are all career lows at any level. I’m sure doubt crept into the minds of the team, the fans, and maybe Peraza himself.

A Yankees Star is Starting to Shine

Now he’s turning that all around. The Yankees have been playing him every day, or at least every day that he’s been healthy. And his numbers have gone back up.

In his last thirteen games, Peraza has hit .321/.321/.472 to post an OPS of .793. The Yankees are still in the playoff hunt, three games over .500, and two games ahead of the hated Red Sox, and Peraza is one of the biggest reasons.

There’s an old saying in baseball: never believe the numbers you see in Spring Training or September. Just ask Shane Spencer.

But it’s a little different with Oswald Peraza. He’s got the pedigree, and he’s already shown his skills in the Majors. It seems safe to say he’s earned the chance to wear the pinstripes next season. Then we’ll see what becomes of him and the 2024 Yankees.


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