Sep 27, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals pinch runner Eury Perez (55) steals second base as Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) can not handle the throw during the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

District on Deck's #7 Nationals Prospect: Eury Perez

In what is a very rare occurrence on this list, our next prospect does not have significant injury questions! Speedy, singles-hitting Eury Perez was ranked 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th on four different lists, demonstrating a bit of consensus about him in a set of rankings that has very little consensus.

The Nationals signed Perez out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, when he was only 17. He spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League, hitting a combined .293 over 112 games with an OBP over .400. As a 19-year-old in 2009, he was moved up to the rookie Gulf Coast League, where he annihilated the competition, hitting .381 with an OPS of .946. He remained consistent in his first year of full-season ball in 2010, hitting .299 and stealing 64 bases, in addition to being invited to the All-Star Futures Game, a compilation of all the best prospects from across the minor leagues. However, his on-base percentage dropped significantly, a problem that has remained with him as he has advanced through the minors. Perez had a bit of a down year in 2011, hitting .283 with a paltry .640 OPS, but still stole 45 bases and the Nationals still added him to their 40-man roster in December in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Perez rewarded the Nationals’ faith in him last season, when he hit .314 and stole 51 bases between AA, AAA, and a few rehab games in the rookie league. Most impressively, he hit .333 in AAA, albeit in only 40 games, before making a brief major league debut. Going into 2013, he will be only 23, but pretty close to major league ready. He will have the luxury of spending this next year in AAA polishing his game, and could be trade bait before the 2014 season.

Verdict: Perez’s game has a lot of strengths, but some weaknesses too. He doesn’t strike out often, can hit for a great average, fields well, and steals extremely well: all attributes of a prototypical leadoff hitter. However, he hardly ever walks, doing so in only 2.8% of his plate appearances last season, and his power is almost nonexistent, as he has hit 11 career home runs, none of which came in 2012. If Perez can keep up his average in AAA and the majors and learn to take a few walks, he could be an everyday CF-leadoff guy, though likely not for the Nats, who have Brian Goodwin as the heir apparent in center. If Perez can’t maintain his average and increase his OBP, however, he may be doomed to a career as a quadruple-A outfielder who bounces between the majors and minors, or at best some team’s 5th outfielder and designated pinch runner/defensive replacement, unable to get on base consistently enough to get a lot of playing time.

Tags: Eury Perez Washington Nationals

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