By John Manuel
February 23, 2006
When the Brewers signed righthander Rolando Pascual last fall out of the Dominican Republic, assistant general manager Gord Ash said the organization wanted to make a statement: The Brewers will be a player for top talent in Latin America.
They made a $710,000 statement with the signing bonus they gave to Pascual, who was the consensus top pitcher available on the international market last summer.
Now, it appears players and more importantly the agents who steer talent in the Dominican Republic have gotten the message. The Brewers signed another top Dominican prospect, righthander Wily Peralta, for a bonus of $450,000, according to an industry source. Peralta will turn 17 on May 8.
Milwaukee's Latin America scouting director, Fernando Arango, said Peralta generates excellent velocity due to terrific arm strength and a quick arm stroke. His buscon, or finder, was shopping him to several clubs as an outfielder due to his speed, athletic ability and raw power potential, but his ability on the mound was too much to ignore.
"We were talking about him, and just as we were talking, the phone rang," said Arango, who was in the Dominican to see players recommended by area scout Fausto Sosa Pena. "It was his buscon, and he said he was willing to sign as a pitcher.
"He has some work to do with his offspeed pitches, and he's different from Pascual because he's not as big, but we saw him up to 96 (mph) with his fastball. When (crosschecker) Jeff Cornell came down to see him, we saw him good again, and we decided to sign him."
Peralta, 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, came to Milwaukee for his physical over the winter and reported to spring training Feb. 20. He's expected to earn a spot with the Brewers' Rookie-level Arizona League team, perhaps joining Pascual in the rotation.