Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Cards Prospect Perez Working on Maturity, Discipline

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Cards Prospect Perez Working on Maturity, Discipline

Article excerpt

JUPITER, Fla. * Delvin Perez had hoped to be further along in his development. There's no doubt the Cardinals had similar expectations for their top pick in the 2016 draft.

Perez has found the road to the majors much more difficult than he expected when the Cardinals gave him a $2.2 million signing bonus.

They say the first step to correcting a problem is to acknowledge it.

The talented shortstop prospect is eager to show that he has learned from some of the missteps he had last year in his second pro season.

"I think the most essential thing in a ballplayer's career is to mature and do the little things to reach the majors," Perez said during a recent break from the Cardinals' STEP camp. "What the major leaguers do like work hard in the gym, discipline, that's what I've been working on to improve."

It's an understatement to say that 2017 was a disappointment for Perez. More often than could be deemed acceptable, he fell short of his and the team's expectations on the field and off.

Perez, who didn't turn 19 until November, essentially had the type of growing pains that can be expected from a regular 18-year-old. He's not a regular kid, though. He's a talent the Cardinals deemed a low risk-high reward gamble when he fell to 22nd overall because he had tested positive for a performance-enhancement drug before the 2016 draft.

"There's a lot of expectations on being a first-round pick," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "He has to make the adjustment to professional baseball and what that looks like.

"What a lot of 18- and 21-year-olds face is growing up, taking responsibility and understanding that this is not playing on your high school team. This is your job and career. When you look at last year you hope he grew a lot from what he experienced. You hope this year he can take a big step."

The Cardinals and Perez don't want to dwell on the issues that prompted concern. Nonetheless, he had to learn the importance of being on time and understanding and appreciating what he's supposed to do.

In many ways it's no different from the expectations any adult has at work. Be punctual and dependable and ready to contribute and perform.

At 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with impressive range, he's still considered a special talent even though he'll need to climb back up the prospect lists. A year ago, Perez was listed as the Cardinals' third-best prospect by Baseball America behind Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver.

The next four guys behind Perez on Baseball America's Cardinals' Top 10 prospects list last spring all reached the majors Carson Kelly, Magneuris Sierra, Sandy Alcantara and Harrison Bader.

Perez dropped out of that Top 10 list after a disappointing 2017 in which he hit a combined .203 in 34 Rookie League games between Johnson City of the Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. …

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