On Friday, Miami Marlins top prospect, Eury Pérez made his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds. Going 4 2⁄3 innings, striking out seven, only giving up two runs, and throwing 88 pitches, Eury looked like he belonged despite being MLB’s youngest active player.
For Eury to reach the sport’s highest level at age 20 speaks to his individual ability, but also to key members of the Marlins organization who gave him the opportunity and guidance to develop so rapidly.
When Pérez was just 15 years old, he was still extremely raw, but had shown potential. “He’s a diamond,” said Angel Izquierdo, the area scout who signed Eury. “You see his shining light from far away. I was looking for a job in the baseball world and I saw this kid and I’m like, okay okay, and then see everybody standing up like looking at this kid. I’m okay, I’m not wrong about him. So this guy is special.”
“The talent, it’s too obvious, man,” Izquierdo continued. “It was too obvious there that talent, that smoothed out body, that’s too much, it was too much. It was too easy to identify that.”
“If I were with a team at that time, I will definitely sign this guy,” Izquierdo recalled thinking. “Then the Marlins gave me the opportunity and Eury was one of the first, actually the first one that I showed them...long story short, he’s a Marlin. It was a whole good process.”
With coaching and added strength, Eury’s fastball velocity increased dramatically through the years. Izquierdo remembers the pitch sitting in the low 80s when he saw him for the first time. Against major league competition last Friday, Eury averaged 97.4 mph and topped out at 99.1.
“Eury’s been a pretty natural strike-thrower,” said Adrian Lorenzo, Marlins senior director of international operations. “So for most young guys, especially young Latin guys, the command and the control part usually has to work its way into a manageable spot. The good thing is for Eury, he was a pretty natural strike-thrower from the beginning and just kind of consistently kept that trend, so that’s put him in a different category than most.”
“And then I’d say the pretty big obvious one,” Lorenzo added, “he just came on physically, right? Like came on physically over the course of the last two years which puts him in a spot where he can be throwing consistently mid-to-upper 90s. Without that physical development, he doesn’t get to this point where he’s at right now. I think he's still got a lot of physical projection left, so as crazy as it seems, there’s a lot more left to see from Eury still.”
At the time of his official signing—July 2, 2019—the Marlins listed Eury’s weight at 170 pounds. Entering this season, he was listed at 220.
“For me, it’s been the miscellaneous stuff,” said Hector Crespo, Marlins director of minor league operations. “I think, obviously the pitch package and arsenal has always been there, the delivery, the fluidity of it all, it’s just the reason that he went to Double-A again—the PFP part of it, the pitch-to-pitch-to-count stuff, just the whole foundation level, and I think he’s really made strides, especially this year. So just put them in a better position to have success and hopefully stick here for a long time.”
Pérez skipped the Triple-A level completely to join the Marlins rotation. Due to his inexperience and the canceled 2020 MiLB season, he threw only 186 career innings in regular season games prior to debuting. Both Lorenzo and Crespo said they are unsure about how Eury’s workload will be managed at the big league level.
“I’ll leave it to [pitching coach] Mel (Stottlemyre Jr.) and [general manger] Kim (Ng) and how they want to operate it,” said Crespo. “I just think his work in Double-A has kind of set him up for what he’s going to be doing here in the Major Leagues.”
For all of the Marlins employees who have watched Eury develop from a $200,000 signee into the organization’s top prospect, the debut was a big day for them and they couldn’t have been more excited:
“I think, like Adrian (Lorenzo) said, that it got here a little quicker than anticipated, but it couldn’t have been for a better guy, a better competitor, a better person. He’s gone each step of the way. He’s been the ultimate, I’d say, competitor, but he’s been able to get here. It’s a testament to his character of the person he is, so obviously the ability is there, but just happy for him and his family...it’s just full-circle kind of deal.”
Pérez will be going back out for his second start against the Washington Nationals on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. If he goes another start after that, he will be heading up to Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies.