When miami marlins rookie Yuri Perez threw his first pitch against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, he was immediately joined by a franchise legend. Perez will be 20 years, 27 days old Youngest pitcher to debut with the MarlinsBroke the record of Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez, who took the baseball world by storm as a rookie in 2013, was 20 years, 250 days old when he made his major league debut. He was fiery from the outset, striking out eight batters and allowing just one run in five innings of work. Fernandez carried that momentum throughout the season and made the All-Star team as a rookie. He also won the Rookie of the Year award.
Pérez joined a major-league team with a similar prospect's pedigree. He, like Fernandez, appeared on at least one top-10 prospect list prior to his rookie season. Baseball America listed Pérez as their No. 7 prospect entering 2023, and Fernandez ranked No. 5 on Baseball America's list in 2013.
After his debut season, Fernandez remained an outstanding pitcher with the Marlins until died tragically in a boat accident In 2016.
Perez is armed with four pitchers who are either already above average or project to be above average. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but can hit the upper digits. His slider and changeup have flashed as excellent offerings, and he also has a curveball. That four-pitch mix helped Pérez have 110 strikeouts in 77 innings across Single-A and Double-A last season.
What really sets Perez apart is his command. Perez, who is listed at 6-foot-8, doesn't have the same control issues as other tall pitchers. He has a walk rate of 7.7% in Double-A this season. By comparison, New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has a 7.9% walk rate in the majors.
The Marlins find themselves in an interesting position when it comes to Pérez starting. They are 19–19 on the season, despite the worst run differential in the National League, thanks to an impressive 12–0 record in one-run games. Teams typically win about 50% of one-run games.
That makes Miami a prime candidate to hit hard from regression, although calling up a player like Perez could be delayed. If he's everything scouts expect, he could give the Marlins three quality weapons at the top of the rotation.
It may not be enough to keep the Marlins in contention, but Pérez may be able to help keep the team afloat long enough for the Marlins to become a buyer at the trade deadline. And if not, perhaps Perez will give Marlins fans a reason to be excited about what's to come after some very disappointing results in recent years.