Welcome back to another edition of Top Dynasty Keepers.
The past two weeks have featured two young hitters in Nolan Gorman and Christopher Morel. So this week I am going to focus the spotlight on two rookie pitchers. The first is Eury Perez of the Miami Marlins and the second is Bobby Miller of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If you have been reading my articles for a while, then you know my love of young hitters over young pitchers. But in dynasty leagues, you still need young pitching to help build your staff for future seasons. Perez and Miller are both pitchers you can build a staff with.
Time to Shine
The Marlins signed Perez out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, and thanks to COVID it took until 2021 for him to make his professional debut. When Perez finally made his first pro pitch, he had added close to four inches and 45 pounds to his frame.
Despite being only 18-years-old, an age in which he would be in high school if he grew up in the United States, Perez dominated hitters on two different levels of A ball that season.
As for Miller, after being drafted in the 38th round by Baltimore out of high school in 2017, he decided to attend Louisville and didn’t join the starting rotation until midway through his sophomore season. He then only made four starts in 2020 when COVID shut down the college season.
Despite few starts in college and some concern about his delivery, the Dodgers jumped at the chance to draft Miller, nabbing him with the 29th overall pick in 2020 and handing him a bonus of more than $2 million.
Let’s dive more into each player.
Perez just turned 20 back in April, but he is already a full-grown man, standing at 6-foot-8 and weighing 220 pounds. Thanks to his large frame, Perez features a fastball in the upper 90s and averages 97.3 mph so far in the majors. But while he throws the fastball with high velocity, it doesn’t have a lot of movement right now, allowing batters to hit .290 against it with three homers and a .677 slugging percentage.
The young right-hander also has three other pitches that are projected to be above average or already are above average. His slider averages 86.3 mph and has produced a Whiff% of 39.5 and a .143 opponent batting average. Meanwhile, his curveball comes in at 80.9 mph and has limited batters to a .083 average with a 59.3% Whiff%.
Perez also has a nice changeup but has thrown it only 8.9% of the time. When he does throw it, opponents are hitless against it.
Dominating Minor Leaguers
Perez used his full arsenal of pitches to dominate against players often three to five years older than him. In 2021 he averaged 12.5 K/9 with a 0.885 WHIP and 1.96 ERA over two levels of A ball despite facing an age difference of 3.9 years at Class A and 5.3 years at High-A.
That same age difference continued in 2022 at Class A and Double A, yet he still struck out 12.9 batters per nine but saw a jump in his WHIP to 1.143 and ERA to 3.97 as he battled arm fatigue and shoulder soreness during the season.
Nothing Left to Prove
If the Marlins had any concerns about Perez and his arm entering this season, they went away quickly. Starting the year at Double-A Pensacola, Perez went 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 0.806 WHIP, allowing only 16 hits and nine walks in 31 innings while striking out 42. The only blemish was the five home runs he allowed.
But that didn’t stop Miami from recalling him to the majors for his MLB debut on May 12. In his first four starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.211 WHIP. While showing control in the minors, Perez issued 10 walks in his first 19 innings and surrendered three home runs.
Taking it Easy
The Marlins know what they have in Perez, and it appears they aren’t going to push him too much on the mound. Through his first four starts, he has yet to go past five innings. The most pitches he has thrown in a major league game is 88 – that coming in his first start against the Reds.
There will be a few bumps in the road for Perez considering his age and experience. Despite his size, he is able to repeat his delivery and throw strikes. He already has four above-average pitches, making it easy to project him to be one of the best young pitchers in the game and a player you need on your roster if you are able to get him.
Unlike Perez, Miller comes to the majors with a little more experience. He pitched for three years at Louisville before making his professional debut in 2021, and what a debut season it was. Pitching at High A Great Lakes, Miller had a 10.7 K/9 rate with a 1.91 ERA and 0.872 WHIP. In 47 innings of work, he allowed only 30 hits and 11 walks, and only one home run.
Those numbers earned him a promotion to Double-A to finish the year, where he struggled a bit with a 4.82 ERA and 1.286 WHIP. But he still threw the ball past hitters as he had a 13.5 K/9 rate.
Like Perez, Miller throws hard, sitting in the upper 90s and at times topping 100 with a four-seamer that has a lot of run while also featuring a two-seamer that touches triple digits as well. That fastball was on display in the spring of 2022 when he struck out Shohei Ohtani with a 100 mph fastball during an exhibition game and then struck out the side in the Futures Game during the All-Star break.
Miller also has an excellent slider and change and an improving curveball that is a bit better than average. The slider sits in the upper 80s but can reach the low 90s with a lot of depth while he throws his changeup in the upper 80s with both fading and sinking action. Meanwhile, his curve is thrown in the low 80s is an above-average fourth pitch.
So far, his four-pitch mix is doing well against major league hitters as Miller is 2-0 in his first two starts, allowing eight hits and two walks in 11 innings for a 1.64 ERA and 0.909 WHIP, though his K/9 rate sits at 7.4, which is below his career pro average entering this season.
As I mentioned earlier, there were some concerns about Miller’s delivery coming out of college. He threw with a lot of effort and had control problems at Louisville. Fangraphs described his delivery as “an un-athletic, non-fluid delivery with a long arm action and a violent finish.” Many scouts were concerned that Miller’s future was as a reliever and not a starter, and thus not justifying his being drafted in the first round.
More Than a Solid Pitcher
I don’t think Miller is going to be on the same level as Perez, but he is still a pitcher worth having on your dynasty team. He has a solid four-pitch mix and that fastball that can hit 100. He will still have control issues at times, and his strikeout rate is down this year, but that may be due to a bout with right shoulder soreness during spring training and forcing him to miss the first month of the season.
Despite that, Miller has the tools to be a solid number two pitcher and should be a definite addition to your roster if available.