Setting the Scene
No more talk of Logan O'Hoppe or Donny Sands! O'Hoppe left on the trade for the Phillies' star centerfielder, Brandon Marsh, on a strategic decision by Dave Dombrowski and the front office. Then, during the offseason, Donny Sands (along with Nick Maton and Matt Vierling) departed in the trade for All-Star RP Gregory Soto and UTL Kody Clemens.
These trades left the Phillies a bit thin on depth at catcher; however, the Phillies Pharm System has more to offer than people realize.
Enter: Rickardo Perez. The Philadelphia Phillies Top Catching Prospect.
According to MLB, Perez currently sits as the Phillies' #13 Prospect in the Top 30.
Phillies have agreed to terms on contracts with 21 international free agents.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) February 2, 2021
Including two top prospects: Venezuelan catcher Rickardo Perez — No. 9 on @MLBPipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects List — and Dominican OF Yemal Flores. pic.twitter.com/GdRqOnmpll
Rickardo Perez (who recently turned 19 in December) has the potential to command a rotation and hold down the backstop position for the Phils in a few years.
Born in Valencia, Venezuela, and Bats Left and Throws Right. He has excellent hitting tools to become elite at all professional levels but could afford to strengthen his arm a bit. Logically, Perez will improve, given more time to cultivate strength in skill in the minor league system.
The Phillies signed him out of Venezuela when he was 17, giving him a couple of years of growth at the Rookie level.
He seems capable of working well with a pitching staff and will only get better with his rise through the minors.
What Happens Next?
Hopefully, the Venezuelan-born backstop will jump to Single-A, preferably the High-A team, by the end of his Age 19 season.
Ideally, it would make sense for him to finish in High-A by the end of the season, but that will be answered by how hard he works and how well the Phillies develop him. Logan O'Hoppe did well in this system, so there is hope for Perez to develop even better. That hope is rooted mainly in Preston Mattingly and Player Development, but the Phillies Farm system is on the rise to crack the Top 10 in baseball in the next year or two.
He is a quality hitter with good hands, quick release, and pop from the backstop.
Perez batted: .349, OBP .387, SLG .398, and OPS .785 with 1 HR and 14 RBIs in 30 Games.
Venezuelan C Rickardo Perez is one of my favorite bats in the Phillies class. Perez has a projectable bat who has seen a power surge this past year. pic.twitter.com/FuumvdSdFv— Tyler J. Spicer (@tylerjspicer) January 27, 2021
What Does The Phuture Hold?
The most likely progression for Rickardo Perez is Single-A this Year, High-A to Double-A in 2024, and Double-A to Triple-A by 2025.
It is believable that Perez will crack the Opening Day Roster by 2026 or 2027 if he remains on the team. He would be at his age 23 or 24 at the time and likely assume catching duties for JT Realmuto by that time.
Realmuto (31) is entering his age 32, and Garrett Stubbs (29) his age 30 seasons, respectively. Three to four years from now would not be an effective unit for the Phillies to utilize, given the likely degradation of most catchers on the wrong side of 30.
Perez staying in the organization and learning from JT Realmuto, the BCIB, would be significant to the growth of the Phillies' top-catching prospect.
Only time will tell but look for another surge of improvement from the #13 prospect in the Phillies Farm System.
What Year Does Perez Take Over?