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The Yankees expected interesting starting prospect Oswald Peraza at shortstop

February 19, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; It ended up in New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Stadium. Mandatory credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Concerns about a Yankees starting tenure at the Isiah Kiner-Falefa position may have been exaggerated by many, as reports show Oswald Peraza is the most likely option for the position. ESPN’s Buster Olney spent a weekend with the Yankees in which he heard rumblings about the short, ongoing battle. While Anthony Volpe is the best prospect in the system and IKF has the most MLB experience, Olney reports on his “Baseball Tonight” podcast that unless something unexpected happens, Oswald Peraza is the starting shortstop.

While it’s a decision that could change with trades or injuries, it appears as if the Yankees are confident the 22-year-old plays excellent defense while contributing at bats.

Yankees see upside down bat in Peraza

Hitting coach Dillion Lawson was quoted over the off-season as saying that Oswald Peraza’s out speed numbers were attractive. Peraza isn’t known for his power by many, but in 2022 he hit 19 HR in just 99 games at Triple-A. He’s hitting .464 at .184 ISO across three different levels since 2021, and strength is something that could allow Peraza to put up strong offensive numbers through elite defense and the ball. Another overlooked aspect of Peraza’s game is his solid plate discipline, posting a career rushing average of just 20.3% in 2022 at the Triple-A and MLB levels combined.

Oswald Peraza, Yankees
October 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) is thrown to first base on a home run by Houston Astros center fielder Chas McCormick (20) during the seventh inning in game two of the ALCS in the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Making solid swing decisions and having a solid power can lead to great results in the offensive department, and while projections look at Peraza as ~95 wRC+bat for 2022, there is opportunity for him to reach even greater heights. Having consistent contact and power is what Peraza aims to work on at the major league level, as if he can be a 110-115 rp+ hitter in the bottom third of that lineup with his glove and speed, they’ll score plenty of runs.

Not only is he someone who can contribute at bats, but he’s also a silly baserunner. The bases will be bigger at the MLB level this season, and the Yankees could combine with Oswald Peraza in the 90th running speed percentage. If his speed doesn’t impress you enough, the 35 stolen bases at the Triple-A and Major League level in just 40 attempts will probably do. He’s a great baserunner, and the Yankees have always been missing the element of speed on their team.

He’s a very good player, and with his Triple-A progression and rapport with potential starters on the court, he’s the right guy for the World Series contending team at the position. Peraza is looking to be the long-term shortstop the Yankees have craved since the days of Derek Jeter, but what about last A short, sexy prospect that lit up spring training?

What about Anthony Volpe?

As incredible as Anthony Volpe was throughout spring training, the Yankees clearly had their own doubts about whether or not they should “rush” him. He’s likely ready for the MLB and can skip further development at Triple-A, but it’s likely that Volpe still has some work to do before he gets a chance to start for the Yankees. However, this isn’t the biggest concern when it comes to the decision regarding Anthony Volpe, as the Yankees can’t really justify starting him with what they have internally.

Gleyber Torres has a 24hr with 115 wRC+ and a great defense in 2B, while DJ LeMahieu has had 116 wRC+ and an elite defense in 3B, and it’s hard to imagine Volpe can be 115-120 wRC+ right out of the gate in 2023. The Yankees are the contenders. At the World Series, by giving Volpe time to develop a bit more, they can also evaluate veterans Torres, LeMahieu and Donaldson. If Donaldson is struggling out of the gate, he’s an easy DFA candidate who could open up a coveted roster spot for Volpe.

However, if Donaldson has a 110-115 wRC+ and elite defense at 3B along with strong seasons from DJ and Gleyber, it will be very difficult to make time for Volpe. This is very much a playing time problem, as the Yankees wouldn’t call up Volpe for Opening Day just to make him a backup player. When they did it with Oswald Peraza, it proved to be a waste of time for both parties involved, as they continued to play IKF on Peraza’s superior counterpart.

Yankees, Anthony Volpe
March 2, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; New York Yankees second baseman (77) responded after hitting the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning during spring training at Lecomb Park. Mandatory credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not as simple as just penciling in Volpe at SS on Opening Day, as the Yankees have many established MLB talents that they need to scout as well. Oswald Peraza strikes the perfect balance between being MLB-ready while also being a young rookie with great potential and, at the moment, is the responsible decision to make in the position. The Yankees should continue to give Volpe an extended look with a major league team in spring training, but that doesn’t mean they should start him off to start the season.

Even if it’s just a month in Triple-A, it gives the Yankees about 30 sample games to rate their team’s performance and Anthony Volpe and re-evaluate, even if it comes at the cost of lowering your team’s smudge cap. Yankees actually A World Series contender, with or without Anthony Volpe, so trading Gleyber Torres or the DFA for Donaldson before the start of the season to put a rookie with a very wide range of results in the starting lineup seems like an unnecessary risk, even if a fan in me wants to see Volpe is following the same path as Derek Jeter in 1996.

The Yankees have plenty of options in their home court, and Anthony Volpe has certainly shown enough to get promoted in 2023, but Oswald Peraza is the man most likely to start (and should) start against the Giants on March 30 at Yankee Stadium.

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