Before the start of the 2024 season, is evaluating several noteworthy prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization, using insight and analysis from industry experts to gauge each player’s outlook for the upcoming campaign. Next up: Luis Perales.

It’s no secret the Red Sox farm system is thin on starting pitching prospects.

A new infrastructure, led by chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, could change that in the coming years, but the evolution, much like the development of prospects, doesn’t happen overnight. Patience is required.

That said, there are a few hurlers down in the minors who stand out. And that group includes Luis Perales, a 20-year-old right-hander from Venezuela.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Perales before the 2024 season.

It’s not easy to spot talent on the international market, where players are so young and so raw in their development that organizations must sift through boundless uncertainty to pinpoint positive traits they think might translate to long-term success on the baseball diamond stateside. Still, there are some players who pop, for one reason or another, and Perales didn’t exactly fall into that bucket right away, signing for $75,000 in July 2019.

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Yet the investment looks better with each passing day. One could argue Perales is the best pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, an ascent that began in the Dominican Republic’s Tricky League that summer and progressed to Single-A Salem and High-A Greenville in 2023.

It hasn’t been a straight-line trajectory. Perales was limited to one pitching appearance (two innings) in 2021 — the season after the pandemic-induced minor-league shutdown — and had a limited workload in 2022 that included no more than three innings per start. But the talent is apparent.

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In fact, the Red Sox are so high on Perales they added him to their 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the MLB Rule 5 Draft. And he subsequently participated in the Rookie Development Program, another indication he’s very much on the radar as Boston plots its path forward.

Scouting report
Perales misses bats at a high clip, evident by the 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings he recorded last season in 21 starts (89 2/3 innings) split between Salem and Greenville. The problem? He also issues a ton of free passes.

Perales walked five batters per nine innings in 2023, a continuation of the command and control issues he showed in 2022 and the main cause for concern as the hard-throwing righty enters 2024.

“Perales has some elite fastball metrics, when it comes to shape and everything,” Ian Cundall, director of scouting for, recently told “But what’s going to happen with his command? He had a high walk rate last year, and then he gave up a ton of home runs, too. And that’s a bad combo. If you’re doing that in High-A, you have concerns about how that’s going to happen against better hitters. He’s got to really tighten up the command and control, and then find more consistency with his secondary pitches.”

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Don’t get it twisted, though. Perales jumps off the page from a pure stuff standpoint. As Cundall noted, Perales’ fastball — which sits at 94-96 mph and tops out at 99 mph — has a ton of vertical break, a characteristic the young pitcher can lean on to generate swinging strikes, particularly up in the zone.

Perales also throws a slider and a changeup, both of which are works in progress but nevertheless could become weapons down the road with more refinement. After all, most pitchers can’t live solely on their fastball.

“It’s easy to get swing-and-miss, it’s easy to get outs in Low-A when you throw a fastball 70 percent of the time,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham told MassLive last summer. “But the reality is probably that they are outliers — the few pitchers in the big leagues that are able to do that, they are probably Hall of Famers if we actually looked at similar fastball profiles that throw it that much or they’re bullpen arms. So, I think getting him to get off his fastball more, work his secondaries in, work on a cutter that can complement his slider.”

Perales, who turns 21 in April, is listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, so he’s not the most physically imposing force. Just don’t sleep on the arm speed or his athleticism on the mound.

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“Perales has some elite fastball metrics, when it comes to shape and everything.”

Ian Cundall, director of scouting for, on Luis Perales

Most-likely outcome: Late-inning reliever.

We’re dealing with a lot of variance here, as it’s a profile that lends itself to a high ceiling and a low floor at the major-league level. Perales needs to demonstrate he can handle a starter’s workload — we just haven’t really seen it yet — while cutting down on the walks and fine-tuning his secondary pitches. Absent that step forward, it’s hard to say definitively he’ll stick as a starter, even though the Red Sox will continue to groom him as such.

“There’s definite reliever risk with both,” Cundall said of Perales and fellow Red Sox pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez.

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Even if Perales ultimately transitions to the bullpen, he could do so in meaningful fashion, either as a multi-inning weapon or a high-leverage, late-game stopper.

“Perales has an alien fastball. Slider is pretty good, too. He just needs to command it,” Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes recently told “If he throws enough strikes, I think he’s going to be a great reliever. I don’t really think he’s a starter. I’d love to see it. I hope he proves me wrong. You’re probably living with a 70-80 grade fastball and a good breaking ball. He’s got a good enough changeup that maybe he fools some guys with it. I look at him more as a closer than a starter. There’s no reason to kill the starter stuff yet. He’s going to learn a lot in that role that is going to help him. He’s a big-league arm, though.”

Best-case scenario: Mid-rotation starter.

Perales and Gonzalez seemingly are neck and neck as far as Red Sox pitching prospects go. So, what separates the two up-and-coming right-handers? It could be the former’s potential to blossom into a rotation piece.

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“I think Perales has a slightly better chance to start. He’s a little bit bigger, and I think the fastball has a little more going for it than just throwing hard,” Cundall said. “Gonzalez is more like a stuff fastball, whereas Perales has those good metrics. Whereas Gonzalez obviously on raw stuff, he just throws harder. He’s got that better secondary pitch, too, with that breaking ball. So, I would say it’s easier to dream on him as a two-pitch reliever. Perales, I think, has a slightly better chance to start, just due to his size.

“But it’s all going to come down to command and control for both. That’s where the similarity is. If they’re not throwing consistent strikes and quality strikes, it’s not going to matter how good the stuff is in regards to a starter.”

SoxProspects ranking: No. 7

Gonzalez is further along in his development, having reached Double-A Portland in 2023. MLB Pipeline ranked him No. 7 in the Red Sox system, four spots ahead of Perales.

But is slightly higher on Perales, thanks to the aforementioned long-term outlook, slotting him in at No. 7, with Gonzalez checking in at No. 9. (Outfielder Wiley Abreu is ranked No. 8.)

“I think it shows how much they value Perales that they were willing to put a guy like that on the 40-man who probably won’t even start (the season) in the high minors,” Cundall said.

Fenway forecast
Perales probably will start the season in Greenville, with the chance to advance to Portland at some point in 2024. After that, a possible big-league promotion will start to crystalize a little bit more. Just don’t expect to see him pitch in Boston until 2025 or 2026.

Featured image via Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox