The Texas Rangers have made it clear that they will do everything in their power to re-sign starting pitcher Cliff Lee this off-season. While signing Lee would obviously be the ideal outcome for the reigning American League Champions, there is no reason to believe that the Rangers should live-or-die by him, especially with a prospect like Martin Perez surging through the Minor Leagues. And while there is an inherent risk in signing the 32-year old Lee – as there is with signing any 32-year old pitcher – the left-handed Perez is just 20-years old and already has a full Double-A season under his belt.
Ranked by Baseball America as the 86th best prospect in all of baseball headed into the 2009 season, Perez had his most outstanding Minor League season(5-5, 2.31 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 0.3 HR/9, and 10.1 K/9 in 93.2 IP) while playing for Single-A Hickory. At 18-years of age, Perez’s impressive season was recognized with a promotion to Double-A Frisco, to round out the season.
Perez also garnered similar praise from Baseball America, as they rated him the 17th best prospect headed into the 2010 season. However, in his first full season at Double-A, Perez hit the first speed bump of his young career, going 5-8 with 5.96 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP while starting 23 games and hurling 99.2 innings for Frisco. Also concerning was the fact that Perez posted a 1.1 HR/9 and 4.5 BB/9, both of which were the highest of his career.
Therefore, as the 2011 season approaches it will be interesting to see whether Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers have a defined plan for Perez. Although he will most likely start his second straight season in Double-A, it wouldn’t surprise me if the young left-hander were called up by the Rangers in the wake of an injury or trade.
Here is a video of Perez warming up in the bullpen prior to a start with Double-A Frisco in August, 2009: