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April 26, 2023 at 10:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Luis Perales and Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz

In the middle of March, the SoxProspects.com Brass made our annual trip to Spring Training to catch the action on the back fields in minor league camp. I was able to spend a full week in Fort Myers this year, and as a result I was able to see more players than ever before. Today I’ll focus on a pair of pitchers who scouts were very impressed with this spring.

The one pitcher I was most interested to see in minor league spring training this year was 19-year old Venezuelan right-hander Luis Perales. Perales was one of the arms I had yet to see live since he signed, but the reports I got on him last year were outstanding. Scouts identified him as one of the best pitchers in the Florida Complex League, and after seeing him live for the first time, I can understand why. 

Perales does not have your prototypical pitcher’s size, listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds. He has definitely added strength already and is heavier than his listed weight, but he still has some room to add additional size as he physically matures. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and has a short arm action. His arm is very quick, and he hides the ball well, so hitters have a tough time picking him up.

In the outing I saw, Perales’ fastball velocity was not in mid-season form, but he still sat 94-97 mph and showed bat-missing ability with it up in the zone. The pitch has significant induced vertical break (the difference between the height of the pitch if it had no spin versus the height of the pitch with the spin induced by the pitcher), posting the second-highest average in the system last year, and as a result shows the sort of ride up in the zone teams look for. He complimented his fastball with two secondary pitches that each flashed at least above-average. His changeup came in 85-88 mph with late fade most of the time, but occasionally some cut as well. He also snapped off some impressive curveballs at 82-84 mph with sharp, 11-to-5 break. The pitch had solid depth, and he showed the ability both to land it in the zone and to bury it down and out of the zone when looking to put a hitter away. 

I did not get to see Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz live, but was able to source information on how he looked in a recent start. The first thing that you notice with him is how thin he is—he is listed at 6-foot-3, 160 pounds, and unlike Perales, he actually looks that skinny. He has some projection, but I am not sure how much additional weight his frame can carry. He was very young when he was drafted and will play most of this season at age 19 even though this is his second full season and third overall. The thing that stood out in the spring outing I got a report from was how advanced he was for his age. He has good feel on the mound and strong pitchability, with the ability to throw four pitches for strikes. His fastball velocity is on the slower side right now at 90-91 mph, but he is able to be successful by locating it and mixing in his curveball, changeup and slider.  

Photo Credit: Luis Perales and Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.