After a first half in which he completely dominated the Carolina League, the Braves have rewarded middle infielder José Peraza with an opportunity to give double-A a shot.
Peraza, who has seen his prospect star shine more and more brightly over the past couple of seasons after bursting onto the scene in full-season ball with a fantastic performance at single-A Rome in 2013, and then impressing in high-A with excellent contact skills and stolen base totals, is being challenged by the Braves with a step up to the Southern League.
<center><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>TRANSACTIONS: <a href="https://twitter.com/Braves">@Braves</a> No. 6 prospect <a href="https://twitter.com/JosePerazaSS">@JosePerazaSS</a> & RHP Ryan Kelly have been promoted to the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23MBraves&src=hash">#MBraves</a> from <a href="https://twitter.com/HillcatBaseball">@HillcatBaseball</a>.</p>— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) <a href="https://twitter.com/mbraves/statuses/479698333280116736">June 19, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Despite turning 20 at the end of April and being one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, Peraza did a more than admirable job as the Hillcats' leadoff man and speedster extraordinaire. Although he doesn't possess much power and doesn't take many free passes, Peraza leveraged his excellent bat-to-ball skills and contact proficiency, combined with plus to plus-plus speed into a .342/.365/.454 line (good for a 129 wRC+ and a .370 wOBA), adding 35 steals to further complement his value. Here's Peraza legging out an opposite-field triple, for your viewing pleasure.
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Peraza will become the second-youngest player in the Southern League (and the third-youngest player in all of AA) with this promotion, which goes to show just how highly the Braves think of Peraza's talent and maturity level. Peraza figures to man the second-base job at Mississippi, forming a nice duo up the middle with Elmer Reyes.
The Braves have made it clear that they believe Peraza is the big league club's second baseman of the future, despite Tommy La Stella's recent success. Peraza's defensive skills, speed, and contact ability make his profile that of the quintessential middle infielder who leads off, and the Braves hope to see Peraza continue to succeed offensively at a higher level. The step up to double-A pitching from high-A pitching is significant, and Peraza will be challenged with more quality and refined stuff. He isn't particularly strong, so it'll be interesting to see if pitchers will be able to bust him inside with quality velocity with effectiveness, or if he'll continue to produce despite an aggressive approach at the plate that isn't conducive to walks.
Peraza is leading off and playing second for Mississippi in their game tonight, so he's being thrown into the fire. At any rate, the Braves continue to demonstrate how valuable they believe Peraza is, making this promotion the biggest transactional news coming out of the Braves' lower minors this year.