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Martin Perez Struggles, Needs At Least One More Year In Minors

We've all heard about Martin Perez for a few years now. You know, one of baseball's top left handed pitching prospects the past couple of years.

Even though he's been young for his level at almost every stop, he doesn't even turn 21 until April, his star has faded somewhat, and he's not projected to be the next Johan Santana anymore -- not that player projections/comps usually work out anyway.

Still, Perez is still with the Rangers in camp, and made his second Cactus League start on Wednesday... and it wasn't pretty.

Perez needed 58 pitches to get through just two innings against the Oakland A's, giving up two runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out three. 35 of Perez' 58 pitches went for strikes.

Perez was apparently nervous during the start, which is completely understandable, given he can't even buy a drink (legally) in the United States yet. Said Perez after the game:

"It's all in my head sometimes, and that's what I have to do -- I have to get control of myself and don't think too much about it," Perez said. "I have to be more relaxed and try to do my job."

Again, we all have to remind ourselves that Perez is only 20 years old. There's no reason to write him off as a prospect because he was shellacked in the PCL last year. Perez was never going to break camp with the Rangers in Texas' bullpen this year anyway -- Jon Daniels is too smart to do that.

This is all a learning experience for Perez. Perez' post-game quote completely justifies him being in camp -- he needs the experience to learn how to deal with his nerves. That's not something you can teach, and there's a difference between dealing with your nerves at the AA level and MLB level.

Perez' stuff is there. He's young. There's no reason to think that he won't eventually reach his potential with the Rangers. It just won't be until 2013 at the earliest.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.