8/6/2014 8:29 P.M. ET
Peralta is a worthy NL ROY candidate
Diamondbacks' outfielder has dazzled since his big league debut
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
The background and current success of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta is one of the most refreshing stories of the season.
Peralta is a story of tenacity and self-confidence. Peralta believed in himself and his abilities, and he didn't give up when his career could have been derailed by an injury.
Peralta is a story of good scouting and trusting in sound player evaluation. It's a story that proves how important it is to personally scout players at every level.
Peralta is a story of listening to good advice and trusting in people that know you best.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Peralta as a left-handed international free agent from Venezuela. He began his career pitching in three games for the 2006 Rookie-level Johnson City club in the Appalachian League. He threw nine innings, yielding six hits and five earned runs. He finished the season with an ERA of 5.00 and a 1.00 WHIP. He returned to Johnson City the following year and pitched in 15 games, starting eight and throwing 52 2/3 innings. His ERA increased to 5.81 and his WHIP went up to 1.59. A torn labrum that required surgery ended Peralta's pitching career. The Cardinals released him in 2009.
At that point, Peralta could have given up. Instead, his parents encouraged him to try a different position. He did just that and played for the independent, non-affiliated Rio Grande Valley team as a left-handed hitter in 2011. He hit .392, connected for 17 home runs and drove in 81 in 373 plate appearances as an outfielder and first baseman.
Peralta moved on to the American Association's independent Wichita team in 2012. Again, his bat was explosive, as he hit .332 with 30 doubles, five triples and three home runs. He was proving to scouts that he could hit.
The Diamondbacks signed Peralta last year while he was playing for his third independent team, Amarillo of the American Association. He was hitting .352 with eight homers at the time Arizona assigned him to Class A Advanced Visalia. All he did was finish the year hitting .346 in 219 plate appearances. He had six homers and drove in 46 runs from July 3 to Sept. 9.
After reinventing himself and converting from pitching to the outfield, Peralta played three seasons and never hit below .332 in 1209 plate appearances. He had struck out only 130 times. His dedication was being rewarded. Scouts that believed in him and encouraged the Diamondbacks to sign him were proven correct. His parents were right -- he needed to see what he could do at another position.
A perfect storm of Major League outfield injuries and some rough individual offensive performances opened the door for Peralta. Playing at the time for Double-A Mobile, Arizona promoted him to play in his first Major League game on June 1, 2014. He went to the plate four times and got two hits. He hasn't stopped hitting since.
In a bit less than two full months of big league play, the sweet-swinging, hard-working Peralta has entered the conversation as a serious contender for National League Rookie of the Year honors. Why not? He's become an impact hitter.
Using outstanding eye-hand coordination, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Peralta has a short, measured and graceful swing at the plate. As he has done wherever he's played, he makes contact. Quickly recognizing pitches, Peralta has the ability to hit screaming line drives all over the diamond with quick hands and wrists, and his power hasn't even peaked yet.
Peralta doesn't walk much. He's the type of hitter that can contribute from any part of the batting order. His contact rate is so good he has even hit in the leadoff position for the Diamondbacks, especially against right-handed pitching. As a matter of fact, while he isn't intimidated or unsuccessful against left-handed pitching, he absolutely clobbers righties.
Peralta isn't especially fast, but I witnessed a game against the Tigers when he hit two triples. His combination of power and solid baseball instincts make him a very dangerous hitter and a stable option for the future.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.