Luis Perales was recently identified by Baseball America as an under-the-radar pitching prospect with a great fastball.
Perales, 19, was one of three Red Sox prospects to make the publication’s Florida Complex League Top 10 Prospects list earlier this month. The young right-hander placed eighth after posting a 1.08 ERA and 2.31 FIP with 34 strikeouts to nine walks over nine appearances (seven starts) spanning 25 innings of work.
On August 18, Perales earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Salem. The native Venezuelan made four starts for the Salem Sox and produced a 3.38 ERA (5.44 FIP) with 16 strikeouts to 11 walks across 10 2/3 innings to close out the year.
“For us to push somebody at his age, who started off in the Dominican this year at the academy working out, to make his way to Salem is something we don’t see often,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “So it’s pretty special.”
The Red Sox originally signed Perales for $75,000 as an international free agent coming out of Guacara in July 2019. But he did not make his professional debut until last summer after the 2020 minor-league season was shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then made just one start and pitched two innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2021.
“Overall, he’s so young that we’re just trying to get him consistent,” Romero said. “He’s young in age. But he also hasn’t pitched very much. So getting him mechanically consistent to let his stuff play. We know there’s velo in the fastball. The quality of the fastball is very good. It’s just one slight thing and it’s 98 and it’s moving off of the plate. So it’s just focusing on: throw the ball over the plate, work on your secondary (pitches), same thing, and then we can start refining things. But really for now, it’s keep it simple, throw the ball over the plate, let them try to hit it.”
As for what makes his fastball so great, Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes wrote, “Perales sits 94-97 mph, touching 98 mph at peak, with spin rates in the 2,400-2,500 rpm range and 19-20 inches of induced vertical break. While Perales’ strike and chase rates are just fringy, he has been able to induce whiffs on around 40% of swings this season, a number well above the minor league average. Perales’ fastball features a combination of power, movement and the ability to generate a difficult angle to the plate despite a fairly generic release. Command and strike-throwing are an issue at present, but at just 19 years old the fire-balling righthander has time to hone his craft in the coming years.”
In addition to his heater, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound righty also works with a “potentially plus breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup that flashes above-average” potential.
“We get caught up in attacking and game-planning for swing-and-miss. And when your stuff is that good, you don’t really need that,” said Romero. “Let the defense do some work and those swings-and-misses will come naturally in time. Just syncing up his delivery and making sure he’s in the strike zone. If he does that, he’ll be fine.”
Perales, who does not turn 20 until next April, has yet to throw more than three innings in any of his outings. The Red Sox, as noted by Romero, are exercising caution when it comes to managing his workload moving forward.
“He’s worked a decent amount of innings, just not official because they haven’t come in league play,” Romero said. “Whether it’s instructional league or winter program, he’s always built up. So he does have some innings under his belt. But when he’s done here, he’ll go into the instructional league also and work some. And then hopefully next year, we’ll see. He’ll be a very intriguing starting pitching prospect for us.”
(Picture of Luis Perales: Bryan Green/Flickr)