On Monday, the Cardinals demoted shortstop Delvin Perez to the Gulf Coast League from Johnson City, the Cardinals rookie ball affiliate. Perez was one of the most talented shortstops in the 2016 draft, but fell to the Cardinals due to a failed PED test. Despite his pedigree as one of the Cardinals’ top prospects, he hit .140/.275/.186 so far, and was benched earlier this month after throwing temper tantrum following a strikeout. Some of the Redbird Daily writers chimed in on what this demotion means for Perez and the Cardinals as the trade deadline approaches.
As disappointing as it is to see Perez’s .461 OPS so far this year, the reports of his attitude are even more concerning. Yes, he’s only 18 years old, but he’s a professional baseball player. There’s plenty of guys his age who have success at high levels of baseball – whether it’s in college or the minor leagues. The Cardinals assigned Dylan Carlson (who’s also 18) to Peoria – a full season affiliate. He struggled early on, but you didn’t see reports of attitude problems. Delvin is immensely talented, and has the opportunity to be an impact player at the big league level. The Cardinals aren’t going to trade him away because of what’s happened so far. But it’s definitely something to keep an eye on going forward, and if it festers could lead to Delvin being traded.
It does seem strange to demote a player for performance after only 13 games at that level. So the idea that he was demoted because of attitude or off the field issues is pretty easy to believe. For me, this can go two ways. Yes, he is now a professional baseball player and should act like one. The talent that he is blessed with has given him an amazing opportunity to play baseball and it would be nice to see him put in the work to take advantage of that. On the other hand, he is only 18 years old. Not every 18 year old has their priorities straight, I know I sure didn’t at that age.
What this comes down to for me is what he does moving forward. If he continues to have work ethic or attitude issues then this becomes a real problem. The Cardinals aren’t a team that has typically employed low character players for very long. However, if he takes this demotion as a wake up call and uses it to improve going forward then this will be nothing more than a small footnote on his career. He has the opportunity to make us forget about this whole thing very quickly.
First thing is first – a demotion is a demotion. There is no way to get around it, whether you are a major leaguer being sent down for a quick tune up, or even just to the bench to get yourself mentally ready – having to be told that you aren’t what the club needs right now isn’t a good thing. Anyone saying that it isn’t that big of a deal is getting high on bath salts.
Now to the player.
Delvin Perez is at a crossroads really early in his career – he clearly lacks the maturity to handle the professional life. After the Cardinals made a leap to get what some MLB scouts saw as a top-10 pick, Perez hasn’t done a lot to “wow” us or the St. Louis front office. At least in a good way. Sure he is young, but the attitude displayed isn’t something adults do – it’s what kids do.
You can be 18-20 years old and be a decent human being. It’s all about how you attack your life. What I see out of DP right now is someone who cares more about the lifestyle of an athlete, not being an athlete. I wish the kid nothing but the best, but to me, don’t be surprised if he is moved over the deadline, or falls off quickly. The Birds on the Bat are looking for productivity and promise, not a head case.
I’ll be blunt with Perez and his future with the team: he needs to clean up his behavior, because this league and organization has no room for clubhouse cancers, young or old. The kind of player who demands a space too large for one man to consume, thus creating conflict and discord, which leads to tension and imbalance. Strip away the basics and remember this kid gets to play a beautiful game for a living, and if he plays his cards right, the Cardinals are waiting for him to ascend. If Perez has paid any sort of attention to the minor leagues inside this ballclub, he should know that production leads to immediate ascension. Look no further than Magneuris Sierra, who jumped two affiliates earlier this season when a need arose.
You can be a gifted ballplayer in this current climate, but that doesn’t mean your diva tactics will go overlooked. Imagine how many gifted ballplayers have washed out of the game due to a bad attitude, leaving to waste a large amount of talent and promise. The number may give you a stomach ache if it was known exactly. A demotion at any level isn’t exactly an ultimatum, but a basic motion of a foot being raised towards a player’s ass. If Perez doesn’t get in gear, he’ll never reach the big time, and may be gone.
The good thing is Perez is only 18 years old, contains the tools and drive to be a professional, and merely needs to bring it together. Sometimes, a lack of discipline lands in different strokes for young players. For Alex Reyes, it was a drug suspension that cost him 50 games. For Perez, this demotion is a wakeup call. His paltry .140 average in Johnson City doesn’t completely mask the appeal of his 12 steals, but he’s still got a long way to go.
The Gulf Coast League isn’t where the Cardinals envisioned their 2016 first round draft pick spending a part of July in this season, but that’s life in the world of sports. Sometimes, it doesn’t play out the way you want it. From here on out, Perez is at the controls. He sinks or swims based on his next move.
In the words of the fictional Crash Davis, if you get up to the show and light it up, you can have any kind of fungus on your flip flops. If you are still in the minors and messing around like that, you’re just a slob. Don’t be a slob, Delvin.
The fact that an 18 year is immature with an attitude problem is not really a revelation. He wouldn’t be the first person his age to need a kick in the pants. However, this is not at all what you want to see from last season’s 1st rounder. For him to take a step back so soon is disappointing. Keep in mind, moving from Johnson City to Jupiter is all rookie-level, lowest of the low affiliates, but it is still a move in reverse. It’s not quite a Springfield to Palm Beach move, but as stated earlier a demotion is a demotion. One thing to consider is that, being in Jupiter, Palm Beach hitting coach George Greer, asteemed guru, will now be at arms length for potential one-on-one hitting work.
Now, his name continues to be thrown about in trade ideas from the wannabe GM’s throughout Cardinals Nation. It could certainly be on the table. At this extremely early stage of his career, his value still lies in the “top 5 talent” potential, and not so much in his numbers. Right now he would still be a “centerpiece” in a trade. If his attitude and numbers were to remain unchanged over the next year and a half, his value tanks. I don’t think it’s wise to move him just yet, unless you are getting an absolute stud. I’ve known some wildly immature and cocky 18 year old. Lest we forget Carlos Martinez’s juvenile twitter activity from a few years ago. The demotion stinks, but give him a hot second to grow up.