Entering 2010, Martin Perez was frequently compared to Johan Santana. Now a 19-year-old in Double-A, he's had some problems with his command but continues to show promise. I got a look at Perez, who is currently sidelined due to a fingernail injury, on May 14th. While his command was not lights-out, his stuff was undeniably impressive.
Fastball: Perez's fastball sat 91-93 MPH, (mostly 93 and hit 94 twice) throughout his 82-pitch outing. The pitch had good downward break and a little arm-side run. He appeared much more comfortable throwing his fastball than any of his other offerings, and really relied on it when he got into jams. He threw it in all counts and commanded it decently, especially considering the movement he had on it. Though he commanded it effortlessly in the first two innings, he struggled to hit his spots with it later on in his performance.
Perez wasn't afraid to challenge hitters with his fastball initially, both inside and outside. The first time through the lineup, it was unhittable. In the first inning, he struck out two batters with it, and threw only one pitch that wasn't a fastball. He blew it by everybody, even though they knew it was coming. As his outing went on though, hitters began to catch up. They wouldn't offer at any of his off-speed stuff, instead choosing to wait on his fastball to come in when he needed to throw a strike. He seemed to hurt himself by trying to paint the corners, rather than just challenging hitters with it as it got later in the game. I'd estimate that around 70% of his pitches were fastballs. This can absolutely be a plus offering for him in the future, and probably already is.
Curveball: His curveball had some sick break on it. It really disrupted the timing of the hitters. He threw it maybe six or seven times, and sat around 83-84 MPH with it. His command of the pitch was unspectacular. He left it up in the zone a lot. The break on this pitch makes me think this can be a plus offering in the future, assuming he can learn to command it.Changeup: His changeup was solid. It came in in the low 80s (81-83) and kept hitters off balance. The similarity in speed between his change and curveball seemed to work in his favor, as hitters had to guess whether the pitch was going to break or not. I think it'll be a serviceable pitch for him in the future, but probably not much more than average.
Mechanics: Perez's mechanics looked clean to me. I'm no expert, but I couldn't pick out any glaring red flags. He employs a long stride and he has a really clean follow through. He does a decent job of hiding the ball during his delivery.
Final thoughts: It's easy to see where all the buzz on Perez comes from. He has two potential plus pitches and another that should be at least average. He still needs to learn how to pitch though; it seemed like he was accustomed to dominating hitters with just his fastball, and he'll need to break himself of his reliance on it. He also could use some work on his command, specifically with his off-speed stuff. If he learns to utilize all of his pitches at any time, he could be deadly.