I'll always have a soft spot for Perez who, for a time, looked like he might become a superstar. In 2004, the year after he came from the Padres in the Brian Giles trade, Perez struck out 239 batters in 196 innings with mid-90s heat -- a rare commodity for a lefty -- and a dominating breaking ball. He was 22 years old. In the years since then, the Pirates haven't had another pitcher with his talent (although recent first-round picks Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon might be that good at some point). Baseball Reference lists Sandy Koufax as the pitcher to whom Perez was most similar through age 23. (Which doesn't mean he was the next Koufax, of course, simply that his talent was pretty special.)â†µ
Unfortunately, Perez was never the same after that season. His velocity dropped off, and his control was never that great to begin with. He got shipped to New York and had a couple of seasons in which he showed promise, although not nearly as much as he'd shown in 2004. That led to a contract that didn't turn out well, and Mets fans vilified him. Last season, he pitched for the Washington Nationals' Class AA affiliate in Harrisburg. It's amazing that he's still only 30, and that he's still at it.â†µ
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