Minor League Hitter of the Week:
José Peraza, 2B, Mississippi: 9/18, 1 2B, 1 3B, 7 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/3 SB, .500/.500/.667
After leading off the California-Carolina League All Star Game, José Peraza was called up to double-A Mississippi from high-A Lynchburg due to his excellent performance for the Hillcats in the first half of the season, in which he slashed .342/.365/.454 and stole 35 bases. The 20-year-old Venezuelan became the second-youngest player in the Southern League and the third-youngest in all of AA baseball, which is a strong testament to both his maturity as a player and his considerable talent. It will be interesting to see how Peraza handles older pitchers and a more competitive environment overall, but in his first week at AA, he put together fantastic numbers. Peraza hit .500 in his first four games for Mississippi, with seven singles, a double, and a triple. He also stole a pair of bases, although he was caught once and was also picked off in Sunday's game.
As you can see in the above video of a Peraza single over the weekend against the Jackson Generals, he's continuing to do more of the same things that allowed him to find so much success for Lynchburg this season. He's so calm at the plate and has short, simple mechanics that, combined with his strong bat-to-ball skills, allow him to make loads of contact. Peraza doesn't have much thunder in his bat, but he certainly is able to spray liners to all fields and take advantage of his speed on the basepaths to create havoc. It would be silly to overreact to four games, but if they're any indication of things to come, Peraza could continue to fly up the organizational ladder and be a realistic option for Atlanta's big club as soon as sometime next season. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses, as his performance in Mississippi will be telling as to just how ready he is. I know there's been some discussion on the blog about Peraza seeing time in Atlanta this season, but I would be absolutely floored to see that happen. But, seeing him get to the Majors as a 21-year-old isn't out of the realm of possibility, and his contact skills and speed could be a nice addition to the top of a Major League lineup, all while playing a plus second base.
Minor League Pitcher of the Week:
Yunesky Maya, RHP, Gwinnett: 2 GS, 13.1 IP, 12 H, 3 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 9 K, 2.03 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 66 & 50 game score
The pickings were pretty slim for Minor League pitchers this week, but Yunesky Maya takes home the nod as being the organization's top MiLB pitcher over the past week of games. Maya threw a pair of games for Gwinnett over the past week, with the first coming last Tuesday against the Indianapolis Indians (6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K) and the second coming yesterday against the Louisville Bats (6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). Although he wasn't overwhelmingly good in either of his starts, he gave his team a chance to win in both outings, and was the catalyst in his team's game last Tuesday, propelling the G-Braves to a 1-0 win that was possible due to strong pitching. Maya isn't a sexy pick for this award, but give him credit for doing a solid job eating innings for the AAA team. Maya will almost certainly never log another meaningful inning (if any innings at all) in the Majors, he doesn't have overwhelming stuff, and he's not a prospect, but organizational players fill an important role in every Minor League system, and Maya has done a solid job as a member of Gwinnett's rotation this season, posting a 2.39 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 67.2 innings of work.
This was the only video on MiLB.com that I could find of Maya, and it was posted because it featured Stephen Drew getting a "hit" in one of his tune-up games in the Minors after re-upping with the Red Sox. But hey, it's video of him! Maya actually began his career as a Washington National, as he was signed by the organization back in 2010 out of the Cuban National League for $8 million over four years. He never panned out for Mike Rizzo, logging parts of three seasons in the Majors with the Nats, posting a 5.80 ERA over 59 innings of work. Maya has a fairly conventional mix of pitches, featuring a high-80's to low-90's fastball, a changeup, a curve, and a slider. He pitches to contact, as he doesn't strike out many hitters, nor does he issue a significant number of free passes. I suppose he could become a member of Atlanta's staff as a swingman if the injury bug really bites, but realistically, he'll probably just keep plugging along as an org guy. It's a non-glamorous, thankless job, but it's an important role nonetheless, and I'm sure the Braves are happy that Maya has performed well down on the farm this season.