The Yankee outfield has gotten a little thin in the last few days with the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury and the apparent shutdown of Carlos Beltran due to injuries. Brett Gardner appears to be playing in some substantial pain, at least that's what it looked like to me on Saturday, and Chris Young has cooled down. It was probably with those things in mind that the Yanks made a small move yesterday, claiming outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from Washington and jettisoning Josh Outman to clear a 40-man roster spot. With only 13 Major League plate appearances to his name, Perez looks like the type of cheap, late-season addition designed only to ensure that the Yanks have enough warm bodies capable of playing the outfield over the next week. He could actually be more than that and could have been claimed with more than only the next 6 games in mind.
For starters, Perez isn't a late-20s Minor League lifer. He's 24 years old and has been a staple on recent top organizational prospect lists for the Nationals. Baseball America ranked him their 20th best prospect before this season, and Marc Hulet of FanGraphs had him as high as 7th heading into the start of the 2013 season. Perez isn't some bum. He's got some legit tools, tools that have been recognized by scouts and analysts alike. He just hasn't had much of a chance to showcase them at the Major League level.
The greatest of those tools is his speed. Perez has been rated as an 80 on the 20-80 scale by some scouts in the speed department and I haven't seen any report rating him lower than a 70. That speed makes him dangerous on the basepaths (45+ SB in 3 straight MiL seasons from 2010-2012 and 20+ in each of the last 5 seasons) and as a flexible defensive outfielder who can play in all 3 spots. He's also a plus contact hitter who doesn't strike out much and has a .305/.360/384 career batting line in over 2.900 MiL PA. He hit .311/.372/.406 with 30 R scored and 20 SB in 57 games for Washington's Triple-A affiliate this year.
He doesn't walk and he has nary a lick of power in his bat, so he's no future superstar or even a starter at the Major League level. But Perez is young enough to have some upside and potential at this level, especially with his plus speed and contact tools. He could be a productive 4th outfielder for a team, the type of player that Ichiro was supposed to be when the Yankees re-signed him. We know how good the Yankees are at plucking useful pieces from the scrap heap. They may have found something another one in Perez.