The Reds split Jose Peraza's season between Triple-A Louisville and Cincinnati, with the bulk of his time in the big leagues coming during the second half of the season. The overall production was better against the more difficult competition, as Peraza's contact-heavy approach (12.9 percent strikeout rate) and top-end speed enabled him to post an impressive line at the plate and on the bases in 72 games with Cincinnati. Once Billy Hamilton hit the disabled list in September, Peraza moved into the leadoff spot for his final 25 starts, but he slotted in as the team's No. 2 hitter directly behind Hamilton for a brief stretch in late August. In most leagues, Peraza qualifies as a shortstop and outfielder to begin 2017, and in some, he may also qualify at second base. Thanks to the deal that sent Brandon Phillips to the Braves over the offseason, the top prospect finally will have a full-time spot in the Reds lineup. With a full season's worth of starts, Peraza has the tools to push the 40-steal plateau in 2017.
Peraza is off to a hot start this spring, going 7-for-12 with three stolen bases in his first four games. That's not going to slow down the hype train at all. Ever since the Brandon Phillips trade, Peraza's ADP has been skyrocketing because of his stolen base potential. He's a near-lock to start at second base for the Reds and bat second (or maybe even leadoff) to begin the season.
The Reds are viewing Peraza as their likely starter at second base to begin the season, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. With Brandon Phillips agreeing Sunday to waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal to the Braves, Peraza now looks like he'll have a clear path to a full-time role at a regular position, rather than having to serve as a utility bat. Peraza could eventually settle into a spot in the outfield once the Reds determine their other promising young second-base prospect, Dilson Herrera, is ready for regular at-bats in the majors, but the trade of Phillips nonetheless illustrates the faith the team has in Peraza to build on his second-half breakout from last season. Peraza looks poised to bat either first or second in the lineup to begin the season, potentially forming the majors' speediest tandem at the top of the order with Billy Hamilton.
Peraza is expected to play regularly in 2017, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. General manager Dick Williams and manager Bryan Price both said Friday that that they are committed to giving Peraza regular opportunities. Peraza, acquired in the Todd Frazier trade last winter, hit .324 with 21 steals (31 attempts) in 72 games with the Reds in 2016. The question is where he will play next season. He saw time at shortstop, center field, second base and left field and could fill a similar super-utility role to start, but perhaps a trade will open up a more permanent spot for him in the field.
Peraza got the start in left field Sunday and went 3-for-4. The 22-year-old continues to be locked in at the plate, collecting his third multi-hit performance in his last four games and eighth in 11 starts since the beginning of August to push his slash line on the season to .336/.368/.409. Billy Hamilton left Sunday's game early with a possible oblique strain, so the door could be open for Peraza to seize a full-time spot in the Reds' lineup to close out the year.
Peraza was added to Saturday's lineup in place of Brandon Phillips (foot), Jamie Ramsey of MLB.com reports. Peraza was set to open Saturday's game on the bench, but Phillips will be unable to go after fouling a ball off his foot in Saturday's game, so Peraza will get the start at second base in stead. He will hit sixth in the batting order against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia.