Williams Perez, one of the Atlanta Braves’ many good young pitchers, worked a splendid game Tuesday in St. Petersburg — eight innings (meaning a complete game), two earned runs, four hits, four walks, one strikeout. He took the 2-0 loss, but still: For his third start after five weeks on the disabled list, it was stirring stuff.
The Rays’ two runs came in the seventh on a home run by their eighth-place hitter after an infield single. Kevin Kiermaier hit a 1-2 changeup — 80 mph, middle of the plate — over the wall in right-center. It was a bad pitch, maybe the only one of the 92 Perez threw. If you’re a Braves’ fan, you came away feeling bummed by the loss but encouraged by Perez, who’s 24. And now for the really good news:
If you were rating the Braves’ 10 best pitchers under 25, Perez might not make the cut.
Just for fun, here are 10 who might be considered more promising (which isn’t to take anything from Perez, who’s demonstrably pretty darn good): Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos, Tyrell Jenkins, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka and Lucas Sims.
OK, I cheated. That’s 11 names, not 10. That’s 11 names even without Williams Perez, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2009.
Of those 11 names, nine — Teheran and Sims are the exceptions — were acquired under John Hart and John Coppolella, whose joint stewardship began last fall. Fried hasn’t pitched this season owing to Tommy John surgery, but he was the No. 7 player drafted in 2012 and was rated by FanGraphs as the Padres’ No. 3 prospect of 2014. (Wisler was No. 2.) Allard and Soroka were drafted in Round 1 this June.
If you’re wondering — and I know many of you still are — how the Braves could trade Alex Wood, who’s 24 and who’d already proved he could pitch in the majors, that list of names supplies much of your answer. (Concerns about Wood’s durability provide the other part.) The Braves have a ton of young pitching. Not all of those young pitchers will become mainstays here. There’s no such thing as a 12-man rotation.