Arguably the most talented team in the Royals minor league system, the Lexington Legends (Low-A) currently roster nine of the Royals top 30 prospects. Seuly Matias, MJ Melendez, and Nick Pratto get a lot of attention from the national media, and rightfully so. Seuly Matias leads all of Minor League Baseball in home runs, MJ Melendez is one of the top catching prospects in baseball, and Nick Pratto was the Royals first round pick just a year ago.
Yet, there were only two players in Lexington’s lineup on Sunday with a higher OPS than SS Cristian Perez, and none had a higher batting average. Cristian Perez is a 19-year old SS from Venezuela that has now been in the Royals organization for three seasons. As a 17-year old back in 2016 he played in the DSL where he hit .251/.349/.291 in 59 games. Then in 2017 he hit .270/.327/.362 in 48 games in the AZL. Now in 2018, Cristian Perez is hitting .380/.405/.465 and looks to be making a name for himself as a prospect.
Cristian Perez is certainly a name you need to know in the Royals system. Standing 5’10” 170″, Perez is a smooth fielder at SS who is finally starting to hit the way his athleticism would suggest he could. Perez’ bat-to-ball skills have been impressive throughout his career, but they’ve gotten even better in 2018. After posting K% of 9.1% and 14.2% in 2016 and 2017, Perez’ K% is down to 8.5% in 2018 and he’s having the all-around best offensive season of his career.
Obviously Perez is hitting at an unsustainable rate. A .380 batting average and a .400 BABIP would be some kind of record that just isn’t happening. HOWEVER. Perez is showing signs of being a really talented contact hitter and at 5’10”, he’s got some room to grow into power as well. The ability to make consistent contact is a big box to check for prospects, especially as teenagers, and Perez seems like he has checked that box and is ready for step two: hitting for power.
Cristian Perez is climbing onto prospect radars pretty quickly here in 2018. A smooth defender on the infield with good feet and good hands, his athleticism has transferred to the plate to the tune of a .380 batting average. While that kind of success isn’t quite sustainable, it’ll be interesting to watch Perez the rest of the year to see how he finishes. This could be a potential top 30 prospect in the system if he’s going to hit like this.