Nelson Pereira, 20, is a little lefty - 5-11, 180 pounds - who was signed in 2006 as a 17 year-old out of El Salvador. Yes, an actual Dave Littlefield Latino prospect!
After a couple of solid seasons in the Venezuelan Summer league, the Bucs promoted him to Bradenton in 2008. And hey, he did pretty well. He was 6-2 with a 1.62 ERA. Pereira averaged a little over 8 K's per nine innings, and under two walks with a WHIP of 1.02.
Pereira was named a Gulf-League All Star after leading the circuit in ERA, and The Baseball Analysts rated him as the top rookie league prospect for Pittsburgh. Baseball America tabbed him as the #30 prospect in the Pirate organization.
But his line wasn't so hot at State College last season - 4-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 49-2/3 innings pitched, with a 10.1 K/9, a 5.1 BB/9, and a 1.39 WHIP. But that didn't dim his aura too badly.
Pereira struggled early on, but was gangbusters during the last two months of the season. After his first five appearances, he had an 11.25 ERA; it was 2.15 in his last ten.
Baseball America reports that he has a good curve and change, and an adequate fastball that's in the mid-to-high 80s, touching 90.
The 411 on Periera is that he's a lefty that can miss bats. One red flag is that he's a fly-ball pitcher, even though his home run rate is pretty good, giving up one bomb every 14 frames. Another is his bloated 2009 walk rate, a sign that his stuff is nasty, but patient batters are waiting him out.
If he can get into pitchers' counts and build up his stamina (he's never thrown more than 65-2/3 innings, and that was in 2007 with the VSL), he has the potential to become a mid-to-back end starter.
Pereira has moved steadily up the ladder so far, a step at a time, and is line to pitch at West Virginia next season.
(Next - #22 Robbie Grossman)