Delvin Perez has been a first-round bust so far, but the future might hold greener pastures for the St. Louis Cardinals prospect.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ season is about to start and this Spring Training has brought about a lot of competition amongst the players in hopes of making the major league roster. There have been multiple names mentioned in the conversation, but I think there will be a bigger competition rising within the next couple of years.
In 2016, the Cardinals selected Delvin Perez with the 23rd overall pick. The Puerto Rican star was projected to be a top 10 pick in that year’s draft before testing positive for PEDs just before the draft. Perez was compared to many of the current superstars in the league such as Carlos Correa, and Manny Machado. After his phenomenal season leading up to the draft in which he batted .370 while recording five doubles, two triples, three home runs and eight stolen bases, he showed the ability to, regardless of the PED’s, be a special player at the next level.
The competition at shortstop through the past couple of years has been non-existent with Paul Dejong walking away with the job every season. However, Cardinals fans are looking for new competition at the position. The Cardinals lineup has looked a bit depleted over the past season or two with a higher majority of the lineup having a big strikeout percentage and Dejong owns part of that.
Paul Dejong has shown great strides within his game, but his career strikeout percentage is 25.2 percent. Before Dejong, the Cardinals had Aledmys Diaz. Diaz was a Cardinals savior after struggling for many years trying to solidify a franchise shortstop. He showed a great deal of promise at the position until his bat and glove were hurting the Cardinals more than it was helping.
Dejong took over and he showed a much-improved glove on the defensive side of the ball, and showed a lot of pop that at the time the Cardinals needed desperately. All things must come to an end eventually though as the Cardinals might need to find some new blood at the position and the team has Delvin Perez making improvements.
The Cardinals have a lot of talent around their infield with a versatile player in Tommy Edman, Jose Rondon, Edmundo Sosa, Nolan Gorman who’s been working at second base this offseason prior to the acquisition of Nolan Arenado. Behind all of these infielders, there is Delvin Perez who came into spring training looking like a new player. He’s added muscle and changed his mindset.
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Perez had not played a game of baseball for the Cardinals since 2019, but this season was invited to Spring Training and the player that stepped onto the field this season was a new version of Perez that no one had seen before. Going from being doubted due to his size, power, strength, he transformed into a different human capable of all those things. His speed, agility, glove, and contact were his primary attributes before getting drafted, now he showed flashes of gap power and strength within his game.
Delvin Perez’s career with the Cardinals started off in a bad direction as he couldn’t keep up with the pitching in the minors. He’s been struggling for the last five years, but after an epiphany where he stated “To be honest, I was seeing how my career was going down,” Perez said in an interview with Derrick Goold this spring.
“And I know that I was doing everything wild — all over the place. And I decided to change. Going in the other direction to start a good career. … I feel like I’m enjoying the game because maturity has come and I’m ready. I want it. I want it. I want it. You know? When you want it, you go.”
Delvin Perez has impressed multiple coaches thus far into Spring Training, and he has been intent on learning from the coaches and players that he encounters during camp as well.
What does the Future of Cardinals baseball look like at shortstop?
The Cardinals have some competition coming up, but the battle to look forward to could be the one not yet discussed: Paul Dejong or Delvin Perez? The Cardinals have really come around to the idea of Delvin Perez, and given the Cardinals current situation, could we see Delvin Perez compete for the starting job within the next couple years?
Delvin Perez who is now 22 years old, is still fairly young and could become a valuable asset to the Cardinals lineup with his glove, his ability to have gap power, and the speed that he offers. With guys like Nolan Arenado, Tyler O’Neil, Paul Goldschmidt, Dylan Carlson, and Tommy Edman in the heart of the lineup, complementing them with a bat like Delvin Perez and Harrison Bader at the bottom half of the lineup could be very beneficial to the Cardinals and having a well-rounded line-up.
The Cardinals are in line to become the powerhouse team that they were in the mid-2000s, and early 2010s. The Cardinals when they had Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jason Motte, Jason Isringhausen in their prime were unmatchable. Not to mention they had Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Matt Holiday, and Ryan Ludwick. The Cardinals had so much talent on their roster that they are going to go down as some of the best to suit up in Cardinal Red.
The potential revolving around the possibility of the Cardinals rotation, and lineup could be something very similar to how it was back then. The Cardinals have Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado who are both some of the best at their positions, and they still have Yadier Molina behind the plate who is still one of the best in the game. If Perez finds his swing and can build on the gains he’s already shown, he could surprise some people down the line.
In conclusion, the Cardinals have a big battle coming soon at the shortstop position with the Cardinals possibly looking for a different element in their lineup that Delvin Perez could fit. The Cardinals are in for a terrific next couple years, but with that being said the Cardinals are going to have a lot of competition and decisions coming up very soon.