Griesser’s Suggested Change of the Week
In all honesty, rather than making a whole new suggestion for this change of the week, I could stick to my guns and maintain the opinion that Bowie starter Zac Lowther should take a ride to Norfolk; his weekly start was strong once again, going 6.0 innings while giving up just two runs on four hits.
At the same time, I’m not Mike Elias, and my opinion of extended success at a level may not quite match his. I respect his belief that players should dominate a level for a full season before being awarded a promotion.
I see his point and I like the emphasis on player development, so I’ll make a new proposition for him: promote Delmarva righty Ofelky Peralta to the Frederick Keys.
This might seem like a deep dive into the minors this week, and while part of that is because there simply aren’t too many players knocking on the door to be called up to Baltimore, I’ve actually been following this guy for a couple seasons. This year, he’s really making strides.
Frederick Keys Photo
As a little background for those who aren’t familiar, Peralta is a 6’5” 22-year old from the Dominican Republic. In 2013, he signed with the Orioles organization at 16. Being from the DR, he was one of the few international prospects brought in during the previous regime.
As he’s suffered from injuries and struggled with control, Peralta’s movement up the minor league ladder has been slowed a bit. Sitting firmly in the mid-90s, however, he has good stuff that has helped him find considerable success this year.
In 14 starts for the Shorebirds this year, Peralta is 5-2 with a 3.32 ERA. Looking a little closer at that ERA, though, he had a poor outing on June 20th, allowing six runs in 3.0 innings pitched. That was certainly cause for concern, but Peralta showed poise by rebounding with a five-inning shutout on Wednesday night.
What stands out to me the most, though, is the way his control has improved this year. To this point, Peralta has walked 31 batters in 62.1 innings. While that still isn’t ideal, it’s significantly better than his past two campaigns: In 2017, Peralta nearly surrendered a walk in each inning pitched (86 in 104.2). In 2019, he walked a batter around every 1.5 innings (38 in 50.2) in an injury-shortened season.
Additionally, Peralta’s K/BB ratio is outstanding this year, at 77/31 in those 62.1 innings. On its own, the strikeouts he’s amassed this year are exciting, but seeing that improvement along with the drop in walks is promising for his development. For further comparison to his past performance in the minors, Peralta sported a K/BB ratio of 95/86 in 2017 and 33/38 in 2018.
Clearly, he’s beginning to turn the corner when it comes to control.
Now, given what I wrote to begin this week’s piece, you’re probably wondering why Peralta would be promoted if Elias wants each player to complete a season at a level before being promoted.
Interestingly enough, however, Peralta has already spent a full season for Delmarva back in 2016, as well as two seasons a level ahead in Frederick.
Of course, in those 2017/18 campaigns he struggled mightily on the mound and dealt with injuries (which presumably led to his demotion back to the Shorebirds roster at the beginning of this year), but having shown once again that he can perform in Low-A ball should be enough to advance him to the next level.
It makes perfect sense for Elias to want to see a player’s continued success throughout a long baseball season at their respective level before being promoted, but at some point, capping a pitchers’ development after considerable time at a level between multiple seasons can become a concern.
Peralta may have struggled at Frederick in the past, though the progression of his control and sustenance of his electric “stuff” makes a jump back to High-A ball an intriguing prospect worth exploring.