Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #68 Ariel Peña
After having to write my bonus column today, you’ll forgive me if I end up cutting this one a bit shorter than I otherwise would.
That said, time is of the essence so let’s get right to the man who dons number 68…
Ariel Peña was the third piece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A big (6’3″, 240 lb) right-hander from the Dominican Republic, Peña carried with him a reputation of command problems. Just before the trade, he participated in the Rising Stars game on All-Star weekend. He got shellacked. The rest of his 2010 seemed to reflect some confidence issues.
The next year, Peña rebounded as he pitched a full season with Class-AA Huntsville. 2014 wasn’t as kind though.
Peña pitched to a 4.56 ERA in 128.1 innings across 25 games (24 starts). His FIP was 4.10 though his SIERA was 3.90. He wasn’t particularly unlucky as his opponent batting average on balls in play was .269 and he even returned to a great strikeout form tallying 140 on the year.
His biggest problems were a 5.3 BB/9 — which is painfully high — and a 20.4% line drive percentage, his career-worst by more than 4 percent.
Peña was outrighted to Triple-A in November of last year, which took him off of the 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft. Perhaps it was his rough season that led to no one selecting him, but it also likely had something to do with the elbow injury that ended his season early.
Still just 25, the Brewers have experience with pitchers needing a while to “get it”. Peña still has a big fastball, but until he knows where it and his other pitches are going more often that he seems to now, he’ll never realize the potential he showed when he signed as an 18-year-old.
For now, the erratic Peña will be in big league camp as he’s still someone the organization would very much like to see succeed. Time isn’t infinite in the cases of baseball prospects, even prospects with Peña’s kind of heat.