Now that everyone’s hackles are up from the title, this post is not about Anthony Reyes. I just like the shock value his name provides among Cardinal fans. The A-Rey swap brought another right handed reliever into the system: Luis Perdomo. After posting a .96 ERA in A+, he moved up to AA Akron in June. In the Q&A with Ben Badler, there was a throw-away line not to leave Perdomo out of the equation when discussing relief in the minors. I scoffed a bit at first when I read it so I wanted to go take a look at his 2008 season.
The BA scouting report, written by Badler, on Perdomo, while I don’t doubt the accuracy, is uninspiring given how many minor leaguers it could describe. A fastball that touches 95 and sits at 94* with a hard slider that’s devastating to right handed hitters. Both pitches are potentially plus. The problem is command. I’ve got it stuck in the back of my head that the Cardinals are not good as an organization at correcting command issues in the minor leaguers. I have no evidence to back that up beyond anecdotal examples but it’s stuck there nonetheless. Take that for whatever it’s worth. So you’ve got a fastball-slider pitcher who may sit in the mid-90s with his fastball but lacks command. Yawn.
The numbers thus far are a good deal more exciting. In his first full season of pro-ball, the Indians put him at A ball and let him throw 66 innings striking out 88. He posted a 57% groundball rate as well. At age 23, there’s bound to be some valid questions about the level of competition he was facing. Issuing 26 walks to A ball hitters isn’t a good indicator either but it’s hardly a death sentence.
2008 saw the move to A+ for 37 innings. Perdomo walks away from AA with a sterling .96 ERA but there’s a massive luck component there. His groundball rates slipped to 52%, which is still well above average. 42 strikeouts against 15 walks is almost an exact repeat of his 2007 rates. His move to AA between Akron and Springfield was, again, extremely simlar to his rates at the previous level. A slight down tick in strikeouts (39 in 33 innings) and groundbal rates descended again to 44%. Perdomo was bit by some bad luck posting a .327 BABIP in Springfield contributing to a 4.50 ERA that was a full run higher than his FIP.
Don’t be surprised if the Cardinals move Perdomo to AAA this next season. A lot of those decisions will depend on whether Motte and Perez are in the majors. After those two, Mark Worrell and perhaps the rehabbing Mike Sillman are the only two players with the talent to make it into the big leagues. The Cardinals would be wise not to bother with the Cliff Politte’s and Dewon Brazelton’s of 2008 as players like Luke Gregerson, Fernando Salas and Josh Dew are all viable promotion candidates as well.
Perdomo is a better player than he appeared on the surface in Springfield but his scouting report doesn’t jump out at me. A full season at AAA (at some point) is likely necessary to see if Perdomo can adjust to more patient hitters and develop the command to consistently throw strikes. He’s not the best reliever the Cardinals have in the minors. He’s not even the best reliever the Cardinals have toward the upper minors. He is, however, a reasonable bet to have some success in the majors in middle relief within the next 2-3 years.
*I do doubt the accuracy of this. If a fastball can only touch 95, it’s probably sitting 92-93.