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Taking Wing

FloSports: FloBaseball College Baseball Showdown Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Fernando Perez, RHP, Complex League

Last Monday, Perez popped onto the radar when he pitched the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter, surrendering only a walk while striking out six. That was pretty typical of who he’s been, though, as the 19 year old has struck out at least 5 in all but his first appearance of the season without walking more than two, after roughly similar performance in a dozen starts in last year’s Dominican Summer League.

Signed as an 18 year old out of a remote region of Nicaragua, Perez isn’t yet a high profile prospect and not a lot has been written about him. As Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes detailed in an interview with SportsNet last week, Perez has a prototypical pitcher’s build at 6’3” and roughly 190lbs, with room to add muscle as he matures. He’s also a good athlete who already has strong control. In terms of stuff, Perez already sits 92-94 and has touched 96mph with his two fastballs, and also throws a slider and change up. None of his pitches stands out as flashing plus potential right now, but that’s not surprising for a teenager with growing still to do.

It’s hard to say too much about a pitcher who hasn’t reached A ball yet, but he’s a name to watch as one of the best breakout candidates in the system for next season. All the raw materials for a very interesting pitching prospect are here, and the results show that he’s more than just a collection of raw tools

Jace Bohrofen, LHB OF, A Dunedin

Bohrofen has only been playing in the system for a week and a half, after being drafted out of the University of Arkansas in the sixth round back in July. He’s made a strong first impression, though, racking up four home runs in 10 games and walking more than he’s struck out for a cool 1.194 OPS.

The talent has been evident for a long time. Baseball America had Bohrofen as a top 150 talent in the 2020 draft class, but he went undrafted and then struggled in both his freshman season at Oklahoma and his sophomore season after transferring to Arkansas before breaking out this spring. Oddly, he hit substantially better in the Cape Cod League than he did in his first two college seasons, landing among the league leaders in the summers of 2021 and 2022. While most prospects lose a couple hundred points of OPS in top collegiate summer leagues (where they lose the advantage of aluminum bats) compared to their NCAA performance, Bohrofen gained almost 40 points of OBP and about 100 points of slugging in the summers. It’s hard to know what that means, if it means much at all. At the very least, combined with his early power production as a pro, Bohrofen clearly has no trouble with the transition to wood that sinks some prospects.

The big thing to watch with Bohrofen’s transition to pro ball will be his contact ability. He struck out a little over 20% of the time in both college and summer competition as an amateur, which is a bit high for a player who hopes to make contact against MLB pitching some day. So far so good, with a reasonable 8 Ks in 35 professional PA and a solid 8% swinging strike rate so far with Dunedin (in an admittedly minuscule sample of 61 pitches). If he can maintain a strikeout rate in the low to mid 20s percent, all the other offensive pieces are there. The power has always been evident, with a swing geared for pulled fly balls that’s produced both doubles and home runs regularly with both wood and metal bats, and he has enough feel for the zone to draw some walks.

When he slid to the sixth round, Bohrofen looked like a steal. As Matt noted in the draft signing table, the consensus of public lists was that he was a borderline second round talent. That he then signed at sixth round slot value was an even bigger surprise. However it happened, it looks like it may have been a coup for the Jays, who get the kind of slugging outfielder the farm system has mostly lacked the past few years.