Chase Anderson is under the weather. A stomach bug has debilitated the right-hander to the point that he was scratched from yesterday’s start and placed on the 10-day disabled list in order to recover from what sounds like a gruesome case of food poisoning. Brent Suter was moved up a day to cover Anderson’s start yesterday, and today’s game against the Rockies will feature the major league debut of one of the organization’s top pitching prospects: right-hander Freddy Peralta.
Peralta, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month, began his career as after signing as an international free agent with Seattle prior to the 2013 season. He spent three years pitching in short-season ball for the M’s before getting sent to Milwaukee in December 2015 as a part of the Adam Lind trade, one of David Stearns’ first deals as General Manager. He made his full-season debut in 2016 and followed that up with a breakout campaign last year, split between Class-A Advanced and AA. In 120.0 innings across the two stops, Peralta posted a 2.63 ERA with 169 strikeouts, 62 walks, and a 1.158 WHIP. Had it not been for Corbin Burnes’ simultaneous breakout, Freddy P. would’ve been a shoo-in for the org’s minor league pitcher of the year.
Peralta is ranked as Milwaukee’s #9 prospect by MLB Pipeline and had been performing well in AAA Colorado Springs before his call-up. So what can we expect from the first pitcher age-21 or younger to start a game for the Brewers since Yovani Gallardo more than a decade ago?
Freddy Peralta does not possess an intimidating stature on the mound. The diminutive right-hander stands just 5’11” and is listed at 175 lbs, and his lack of size have led some to place a heavy amount of reliever-risk on his profile. Peralta has a fluid, repeatable delivery without a lot of moving parts, gets tremendous extension towards home plate and releases the ball from a pretty standard 3⁄4 arm slot. His easy delivery helps him to typically work the corners of the strike zone with great success, but he can try to get too fine at times - he walked 4.7 batters per nine innings last season and owns a 4.4 BB/9 rate through seven starts for Colorado Springs this season.
Peralta’s best pitch is his fastball, which grades out as plus from most evaluators. He doesn’t earn that mark the typical way, though, via outstanding velocity; Peralta typically works in the 89-92 MPH range and usually tops out around 94. But what he can do with his heater is manipulate just about any way he wants - he can cut it, sink it, run it, and accurately place it in various spots all over the zone. He likes to use the high-spin offering as his put-away pitch with two strikes, using it up in the strike zone to generate whiffs. He’ll also throw a slider that flashes plus, one that sits 84-86 MPH with short, late movement. Peralta’s changeup receives average to above-average future grades, but at present he’s still working on his consistency with the offering. He’ll also throw a curveball up there from time to time. Peralta’s command rates as below-average at present but scouts believe he can still improve that aspect of his game, and his superb ability to miss bats helps to offset this weakness a bit.
Peralta has been exceptionally successful as a minor league hurler, compiling a 3.31 ERA across and even 400.0 professional innings. As mentioned above, he really caught the eyes of evaluators with his performance during the 2017 season. Hitters could barely touch Peralta’s stuff last year, not only striking out at a clip of 12.7 K/9, but batters registered only 5.8 H/9 all season, as well. He allowed only eight home runs in his 25 appearances.
His success from last year has carried over into 2018, even with the difficult assignment of pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and at the high altitude of Colorado Springs. In seven starts for the Sky Sox, Peralta worked 34.2 innings with a 3.63 ERA that’s no doubt a bit bloated due to the environment. His Deserved Run Average of 1.98 and DRA- of 45 (55% better than league average) better illustrate Peralta’s dominance this season. At the time of his call-up, he was leading the PCL in winning decisions (5), strikeouts (46), and ranked first among starting pitchers with 11.9 K/9. He’s seen an increase in his hits allowed, but some of that may be due to the environment and some bad luck - he’s currently sporting a .345 BABIP after posting a .267 mark last season.
The Brewers believe that Freddy Peralta will be able to hold up as a starting pitcher at the Major League level, and so far he hasn’t given them any indication to believe otherwise. If everything goes right for Peralta - he continues to develop his third pitch, refine his command, and prove his durability under a starter’s workload in spite of his slight build - it’s not difficult to envision him becoming a mid-rotation starter at the big league level. At the very least, he profiles as a possibly dominant reliever if things don’t work out in the rotation. Peralta’s first stint in the big leagues may not be a long one (Anderson is expected to only miss one start), but it’s quite probable that we’ll be seeing him pitch in Milwaukee quite a bit in the coming seasons.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Prospectus