Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #60 Wily Peralta

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Good day!

It’s not exactly common even having one player with significant Major League experience still wearing a jersey in the 60s, but we’ve already profiled Mike Fiers who wears 64 so as you know the Brewers do.

But to have two potentially important contributors to your 25-man roster both sporting sexagenarian digits on purpose? I’m having trouble remembering when else that would have happened. And if Tyler Thornburg needs to fill in… (Thank goodness Brandon Kintzler switched to 53.)

Sure, I’m being a bit facetious, but what isn’t a joke is that the focus of today’s “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” column wears #60 and could very easily open the 2013 regular season in the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation.

peralta

Let’s take a look at…

Wily Peralta.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Wily Peralta was signed by the Brewers as an amateur free agent back in 2005 at the age of 16. He made his professional debut at the Brewers’ Arizona rookie league affiliate at 17 years old in 2006. It’s been mostly a steady climb through the minor league affiliates over the last several years which all culminated in his debut in The Show on April 22nd when he appeared out of the bullpen. He got the call because he was pitching very well to begin the year but also because of injuries to others which forced a bit of short-term shuffling in the pitching staff.

Peralta was sent back to Class-AAA Nashville after that one appearance and struggled. He made 12 straight starts giving up at least one earned run and even had a blow up on May 17th in which he allowed nine earned runs in just three innings of work. That start came amid a four-start stretch which saw Peralta allow a minimum of five earned runs and only make it through the fifth inning once. Peralta began to right the ship after that but still had a start where he allowed six walks and two more with five allowed before his Triple-A time ended.

That belies what has been the biggest problem to this point in Peralta’s development, his control. His BB/9 ratio was 4.73 with Nashville last year and (small sample size alert) 5.14 with Milwaukee. In order for him to realize the potential which so many baseball people see in him, he simply has to avoid prolonged bouts of wildness. He misses bats, but he has missed the strike zone too often.

Still, his performance in five starts as a September call up in 2012 cannot be taken away from him. He allowed seven earned runs in 28.0 IP, good for a 2.25 ERA as a starter. He won a pair of games and lost once.

Breaking down the starts a bit further though, we realize that he gave up three earned runs twice in September. In both of those starts Peralta walked four batters. The first game was a full 6.0 innings so not as problematic as the second where he walked four in 2.2 IP before being pulled very early. Starts like that September 22nd game against the Washington Nationals simply cannot happen very often at all if you’re going to be a part of the upper echelon of starting pitchers, which is where some talent evaluators say he could end up.

Peralta was recently named as the Brewers top prospect by numerous publications and list-makers, and was ranked as the 64th best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. He was the only Brewers prospect to crack MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects rankings.

“Ceiling” is a term used in many walks of life to talk about how high one can get in a given realm. Baseball ceilings speak to the level of performance on the field and in the boxscores. “Floor” is used as a level where someone thinks a player will at least reach given current trends in development and results. For Peralta the sky might very well be the limit for the 6’2″, 240 pound workhorse-type, but with his command and control leaving him at times his floor isn’t as high as I’m sure many of us would like it to be.

Looking ahead at 2013, there are some questions which Spring Training will help to answer, but factors other than performance could mitigate his results a bit.

He’ll be in a rotation, but will that be with Milwaukee or with Nashville? As a Sound he’d be the ace of the staff, one injury away from a call. As a Brewer he’d likely begin the year toward the bottom of the rotation and be asked to eat innings, save the bullpen, and reel off quality starts as often as he could.

Let’s analyze the rotation for a quick second now. Yovani Gallardo is in. Marco Estrada is basically in as his game is loved by Ron Roenicke. He’s posted solid numbers as a starting pitcher but he needs to go deeper into games more often. That leaves four men competing for three spots. Chris Narveson is a veteran, he’s a lefty which none of the other options are, and if he proves effective in the Cactus League then he’ll likely take a spot. Mark Rogers is out of options and the Brewers won’t risk losing him to waivers since he finally appears healthy. If he didn’t make the rotation, he’d end up in the bullpen I’d have to think. Mike Fiers performed very well last year when called upon but tired late. It’s much easier to monitor innings in the minors if the Brewers were concerned by that. Then there’s the school that thinks people seeing Fiers too often makes him much less effective as hitters begin to compensate for the deception in his delivery. He could be optioned to lead Nashville’s rotation to start the season.

Then there is Peralta. The youngest, rawest, highest-ceilinged (yup, making up words on a Thursday) of the group. Could the Brewers want him to start the season in Nashville to make sure that his control and command are where they need to be before pitching him in MLB games? Absolutely. Could he convince those that need convincing that he is past those issues while pitching gems in Spring Training? Certainly. But where he’s at will make a huge difference.

To that end, it was reported not too long ago that Peralta hired the Nashville Sounds’ strength and conditioning coach to work with him this winter. The Brewers did not foot this bill. It was paid for out of Peralta’s own pocket. That shows his commitment, desire, and drive to succeed.

And if the work off the field translates to the results on it, he (and we as fans) will be in a much better position to help the Brewers — rather than the Sounds — win games.

That’s good for everybody.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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