Braves' Peraza dazzles in Double-A debut

Atlanta's No. 4 prospect goes 3-for-5 with RBI triple, scores three runs

Carolina League All-Star Jose Peraza hit .342/.365/.454 and stole 35 bases in the season's first half. (Matt Bell/Lynchburg Hillcats)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | June 20, 2014 2:55 AM

Jose Peraza did just about everything a leadoff hitter is asked to do Thursday in his Double-A debut, and it didn't come as much of a surprise to his new club, the Mississippi Braves.

After playing 66 games with Class A Advanced Lynchburg, Atlanta's fourth-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with an RBI triple and three runs scored as part of the Braves' 9-4 win over the visiting Jackson Generals.

"He was impressive tonight, but we know what type of player we have in Jose," Mississippi manager Aaron Holbert said. "We got a chance to see him for an extended period of time in Spring Training. He basically worked out with the Double-A team all of Spring Training and was extremely close to making this ballclub.

"But we as an organization felt it was best for him to get a little more seasoning down at the A-ball level. The numbers prove his talent. And it's good to have him now. We feel he'll be a huge addition to this team, as well as a huge value to the Braves organization."

The 20-year-old grounded out to the left side in his first two at-bats. But after Gustavo Nunez tied the game with a two-run double in the fifth, Peraza lashed a triple to center to put the Braves on top.

The Venezuela native singled and scored in both the seventh and eighth. Between his base knock and run in the seventh, he swiped third base.

"He swings the bat extremely well," Holbert said. "People say all the time when they talk about guys that hit for average, it's not always about how hard you hit them, but just finding some holes, and he was able to do that.

"He hit one ball hard tonight, but ended up with three hits, with the line-drive triple, the bloop single as well as the infield single. ... He put the ball in play."

Defensively, Peraza helped out on two of the Braves' three double plays. And Holbert is as optimistic about his second baseman's abilities at the plate as he is about him in the field.

"He plays a great second base. We all know that," the skipper said. "[He is a] converted shortstop, with extremely good hands and a powerful arm there."

During his time with the Hillcats, Peraza earned All-Star recognition in the Carolina League by batting .342/.365/.454 with 13 doubles, eight triples and one home run. He also collected 27 RBIs, 10 walks, 32 strikeouts and 35 stolen bases in 42 attempts.

Peraza has steadily risen through Atlanta's Minor League ranks since signing with the club as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2010.

"He's happy to be here, but I don't think he's at all satisfied with getting himself to Double-A," Holbert said. "I, as well as the organization, think he's clearly focused and wants to find himself not only in [Triple-A] Gwinnett but at the Major League level very soon ... certainly for him, hopefully for us as an organization, this year."

Cedric Hunter led the Braves with four RBIs and Nunez added three.

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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