Relive all of the ups and downs of the 2023 Miami Marlins with our Fish On First Season Review, containing detailed articles about a wide variety of players. The FOF staff analyzes the individual impact that each of them had and what it means for their future with the organization.
This installment focuses on right-handed starter Eury Pérez.
- January 25—invited to Marlins spring training as non-roster invitee
- March 20—reassigned to minor league camp
- May 12—selected from Double-A Pensacola and made major league debut (final line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO)
- July 7—optioned to Double-A Pensacola
- August 7—recalled from Double-A Pensacola
- September 23—placed on the 15-day injured list (left SI joint inflammation)
Season Stats: 91.1 IP, 3.15 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 10.64 K/9, 3.05 BB/9 (age 20)
Everybody agreed that Pérez was the best prospect in the Marlins organization entering the year, if not the best pitching prospect in all of baseball. With him continuing to dominate at the AA level and starting rotation pieces Trevor Rogers and Johnny Cueto both going down with injuries, the Marlins made the bold decision to call him up less than a month after his 20th birthday.
Because of his limited professional experience, Pérez was placed under careful workload restrictions. The Marlins didn’t want him going beyond six innings or 90 pitches in any start, and his total innings were being monitored as well. But when he was on the mound, “Baby Goat” quickly found success.
Through nine career starts, Pérez had a 1.34 ERA, including a 21-inning scoreless streak. His most notable outing came against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 19 after returning from a midseason minor league stint. Pérez went six shutout innings, striking out ten, walking zero and only giving up two hits in LA. He became the youngest MLB pitcher since Félix Hernández (2005) to record a double-digit strikeout game.
Pérez averaged 97.5 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball, almost as high as his mentor, Sandy Alcantara (98.0 mph). That number should go up even more as he fills out his 6’8″ frame.
Coming up through the minors, Pérez’s changeup was thought to be his best secondary pitch. It was surprising to see him use it only 9.8% of the time and account for only six of his 108 strikeouts. As he explained to Fish On First, because the Southern League was experimenting with tacky baseballs during the first half of this season, Pérez just didn’t feel as comfortable throwing changeups once making the switch back to normal MLB baseballs.
Despite that, Pérez did well against left-handed batters. Both his slider and curveball were unhittable at times.
Combining his appearances in the majors and minors, Pérez threw 128 innings this season. His previous single-season high was only 78. He struggled in September while pitching through back discomfort, so the Marlins shut him down near the end of the regular season and he didn’t make their Wild Card Series roster.
Future with the Marlins
With ace Sandy Alcantara out for the 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Pérez will be trusted to establish himself as a steady piece of the Marlins rotation. It will be interesting to see how much the teams loosens the limits they had on his workload—2023 was a good step forward, but he’s not yet ready to eat innings like Sandy did.
Aside from getting a feel for his changeup, the young right-hander needs to continue to work on his fastball command. Even though throwing strikes is not an issue, many of the 15 home runs Pérez allowed came on fastballs that were too close to the middle of the plate.
Throughout Major League Baseball, teams have gotten aggressive about giving out contract extensions to emerging stars before they reach their arbitration years. Pérez looks like a candidate for that, if not in 2024, possibly by 2025 after he proves that he can go a full season without much fatigue or injury.
Photo courtesy of Miami Marlins