Tagged: Ariel Pena

Brewers Make Several Roster Decisions


Through a series of tweets by beat writers Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), Tom Haudricourt & Todd Rosiak (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel), several decisions which directly impact the 25-man roster of the Milwaukee Brewers were disseminated from Spring Training on Sunday morning.

With an opt-out decision looming today, first and foremost relief pitcher Blaine Boyer was told that he has made the 25-man roster. The move will eventually require a corresponding 40-man roster move as Boyer was in camp on a Minor League contract, but there are a handful of 60-day DL candidates so finding a spot (or two or three) won’t be difficult.

The other player who got the best news was OF/1B Ramon Flores who was also told he’ll make the 25-man roster. Flores was acquired this off-season in trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas in a swap of players who were likely to be waived by their original clubs. Flores had a strong Cactus League and also showed a little versatility in being able to potentially backup Chris Carter at first base.

As there are ultimately so few spots, many more players get the proverbial red ticket in their locker.

Among those informed that they’ll begin the regular season in the minors are catchers Josmil Pinto and Manny Piña who were told they’ll be in Triple-A. Catcher Adam Weisenburger will apparently join them, giving Colorado Springs a trio of backstops.

Will Middlebrooks was informed today that he’ll also be assigned to Triple-A after vying for a spot as a backup corner infielder. Once there he is expected to rotate at the corner infield positions with Andy Wilkins and Garin Cecchini.

Joining them in the high-altitude infield will be Jake Elmore who was hoping to make the big league team as a reserve but came up short.

In the outfield competition, Eric Young Jr. was told that he’ll also head to the Centennial State when camp breaks. He’ll be joined officially by Shane Peterson who, after passing through waivers earlier this winter, was also in camp on a minor-league deal.

And finally, one official optioning came down as reliever David Goforth was sent out. Even with all the injuries to the bullpen recently, Goforth having minor league options was likely a key factor as others in the running for just a couple of spots had less team control due to no options or contract opt-outs like Boyer.

All told, this leaves the following combination of players in camp:

  • Yadiel Rivera, Rule 5 Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitee Hernan Perez are competing for what is likely two open infield jobs.
  • Keon Broxton (options remaining), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (no options), and Alex Presley (NRI) competing for likely two backup outfield spots.
  • Chris Capuano (opt-out), Franklin Morales (opt-out), Ariel Peña (no options), Tyler Cravy (options remaining) are in play for two bullpen jobs

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #58 Ariel Peña

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Can you feel the excitement? Today is February, 6, 2016 and we’re just 58 days away from Opening Day on April 4th.

Today we profile a player who saw his stock rise in 2015 much like his jersey number did. After wearing #68 in big league camp last year, this year #58 belongs to…

Ariel Peña.



What a difference a few months can make.

From being considered the third piece in the return when the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Southern California, USA, Peña stands today as the only one left in the organization. First came the minor league free agency of Johnny Hellweg (following a lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery) in which he decided to sign with the San Diego Padres organization. Then came the trade which sent centerpiece Jean Segura to the Arizona Diamondbacks (along with Tyler Wagner) for three different players.

Hellweg had control and command issues during his entire Brewers run (not to mention most of his professional career overall). Segura’s excellent debut and All-Star Game run looked extremely promising and while his defense continued to be a strength, his offense largely fizzled. So that leaves Peña who has had a history of command and control problems of his own but who took a step in the right direction by slashing his walk rate (in Class-AAA Colorado Springs of all places) to the lowest it had been since the first half of his 2012 Double-A season.

Some numbers still don’t look great but if you look at the improvements over 2014 and factor in the change in environments, there are enough encouraging signs to understand why Peña was called upon to finally make his Major League debut as a September call-up once the Sky Sox season ended.

Peña first appeared in relief but then started the rest of the way eventually appearing in six games and tossing 27.1 innings in the Show. He finished with a 4.28 ERA. He didn’t have a scoreless appearance and his walk rate jumped back up to 4.6. He did maintain a strong strikeout rate though as he K’d 27 batters in those 27.1 IP, putting his MLB number at 8.9 K/9 after he finished his minor league season with 83 K in 82.2 IP.

Out of minor league options, Peña is going to have to show something when camp opens in under two weeks at Maryvale. After all, he is the acquisition of the previous regime and is now 26 years old. Peña will be an inexpensive option to fill out the bullpen for 2016 and seems made for the long-relief/swingman role to begin the year. Then again, I’m very interested to see what new pitching coach Derek Johnson decides to do with Peña though. He could decide that short-relief, higher-leverage situations like 7th inning work make the most sense. There’s a chance that Peña’s command could be harnessed in a bit in shorter stints on the mound.

Regardless of the role, Peña still seems intriguing enough that the Brewers will want to keep him around to begin 2016 and see what they have in him over a long look at the big league level.

Follow Ariel on Twitter: @2Eltrabieso

Catch up on BBtJN ’16:


Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #68 Ariel Peña

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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.


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.

Catch up on the countdown!

2015 Brewers Non-Roster Invitees to Big League Spring Training

This is a list I’m parking here, basically for my own reference, because the Brewers.com website isn’t updated yet.

Here is list, broken down by position, of the announced non-roster invitees that will be initially assigned to the big league side at Spring Training 2015. I’ll update the list as players are added and do my best to remember to do the same when they are reassigned.

Pitchers (6)

  • Tyler Cravy
  • Hobbs Johnson (L)
  • Brent Leach (L)
  • Ariel Peña
  • Taylor Williams
  • Dontrelle Willis (L)

Catchers (4)

  • Nevin Ashley
  • Parker Berberet
  • Cameron Garfield
  • Adam Weisenburger

Infielders (1)

  • Pete Orr

Outfielders (2)

  • Matt Long
  • Bryan Petersen


2014 Opening Day Affiliates Rosters

Opening Day is here for the minor leagues!

What follows are the announced rosters for each of the full-season minor-league affiliates for the Milwaukee Brewers, broken down by position group.

Nashville Sounds

Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @nashvillesounds)

Manager: Rick Sweet

28 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (9)

Outfielders (3)

Huntsville Stars

Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @HuntsvilleStars)

Manager: Carlos Subero

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (7)

Outfielders (4)

  • Kentrail Davis
  • Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
  • Brock Kjeldgaard
  • D’Vontrey Richardson

BC Manatees

Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)

Manager: Joe Ayrault

26 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (8)

Outfielders (3)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)

Manager: Matt Erickson

27 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)


Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #58 Ariel Peña

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Happy February, Brewer Nation.

Traditionally the most depressing month on the year, February has never been the doldrums for me. That’s because with February comes the three most beautiful words of the off-season: Pitchers and Catchers.

The official reporting date for Brewers pitchers and catchers is two weeks away from today. We aren’t here to count down to P&C though, are we?


As we sit 14 days away from Pitchers & Catchers on February 15th, we simultaneously sit 58 days away from Opening Day on March 31st. As such, we’ll take a look at the player who has decided to switch to jersey number 58 this year…

Ariel Peña.

If you’re new to the blog and don’t know much about Ariel Peña and how he came to MLB and subsequently to the Milwaukee Brewers, I’ll direct you to last year’s profile of the man.

As for his play on the field, I’d like to reference an excerpt from last year’s column as a discussion point:

One report I found said that Peña was “underwhelming in person” and that while the Brewers are likely hoping for more due to Peña’s durable frame, the writer said that Peña profiles as a “prototypical 7th inning reliever.”

As with any player, the true outcome will be determined by how he adjusts to the increasing level of competition as he advances up an organizational chain. The road to The Show is littered with the arms of promising players who couldn’t adjust. I don’t feel that Peña’s lot will be that, but he must improve in 2013 over a 7.24 ERA in 7 starts over 32.1 IP in which he allowed 40 hits and 23 walks.

He’s got a bit of wildness to him that can’t be ignored but his big fastball (reportedly touching 98 MPH), low 90′s sinker, and “wipeout” slider would make for a repertoire that can hang in a starting rotation. The best part though is that Peña is still young enough to harness his stuff at some point and still have a long and productive MLB career.

When 2012 finished, Peña was a bit of an enigma. He carried a 2.99 ERA in the Angels system before coming to Milwaukee as a part of the Zack Greinke deal. You read above how he finished after the deal.

A full season in Milwaukee’s minor league system saw Peña turn things around a bit. He made 27 starts, threw 142.1 innings, and struck out 131 batters for a 8.3 K/9 rate. He also surrendered 79 walks (5.0 BB/9 and 1.66 K/BB ratio) and 17 home runs. His WHIP was 1.363 and his ERA finished at 3.73, though his FIP was over 4.50 and the BABIP he allowed was below league average.

In English, what most of those statistics are indicating is that Peña may have been luckier than good in arriving at some of his numbers in 2013.

For example, Peña did put up sizeable strikeout numbers, but he only generated swings on just over 10% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. For comparison, Michael Wacha of the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals generated swings on almost 17% of pitches outside the strike zone.

My point is that even though Peña seemed to gets things back under control in 2013, he’s hardly out of the woods and on his way to stardom in Milwaukee’s rotation. There’s still much to learn, much to refine, and much to improve upon.

Working in his favor is that he’ll begin the 2014 season still just 24 years old. There’s still time.

The clock is always ticking though, and in two short weeks the results of all the off-season work will begin to manifest itself.

Speaking of the off-season, Peña pitched briefly in the Dominican Winter League for Licey. He only pitched in two games in relief and recorded five outs, so the stats don’t exactly matter. The point is that he’s still working.

Soon enough it’ll be apparent how he’s benefited from it.

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

Brewers Finally Announce 2014 Jersey Numbers

Earlier today, the Brewers finally announced the jersey numbers that the players coming to big league camp will be wearing whilst at Maryvale.

The majority of the players who saw time at the MLB level in 2013 have not changed numbers, though two did. One coach gave up his number for a player. And of course the newest acquisitions and non-roster invitees all need number assignments as well.

Here are all the changes. (Keep in mind that my uniform number repository only counts players wearing a specific number while on the big league roster. I’ll update those pages after camp breaks.)

New Players on 40-Man Roster:

  • #50 – Jose De La Torre
  • #63 – Brooks Hall
  • #60 – Kevin Shackelford
  • #13 – Will Smith
  • #51 – Wei-Chung Wang
  • #25 – Hunter Morris
  • #61 – Jason Rogers
  • #3 – Elian Herrera

Players on 40-Man Roster Last Year With New Numbers:

  • #30 – Tyler Thornburg (switched from #63)
  • #38 – Wily Peralta (switched from #60)
  • #58 – Ariel Pena (switched from #73)

Both New Non-Roster Invitees (Players on MiLB contracts invited to big league camp) and Repeat Invitees w/New Numbers:

  • #59 – Zach Duke
  • #77 – David Goforth
  • #70 – Dustin Molleken
  • #66 – Robinzon Diaz
  • #72 – Cameron Garfield
  • #68 – Matt Pagnozzi
  • #71 – Adam Weisenburger (switched from #91)
  • #65 – Irving Falu
  • #24 – Lyle Overbay
  • #7 – Mark Reynolds
  • #67 – Eugenio Velez
  • #73 – Kentrail Davis (switched from #93)
  • #75 – Mitch Haniger
  • #76 – Kevin Mattison

Something To Look Forward To: September Call-ups


Can you believe that we’re sitting here on August 1st already? The season is two-thirds gone (wait…weren’t we just entering the “second half” two weeks ago? I keed, I keed.) and despite the Brewers lack of success in posting W’s it still seems to be flying by.

About that light Wins column though, that and plenty of other things have been more than enough to make some of the staunchest Brewers supporters yearn for fake football games to get underway. (Yes, a four-game preseason is second only to the Pro Bowl in pointlessness.)

This post, however, is intended as the start of a series of items about which Brewers fans and baseball-first fans can still anticipate and appreciate.

Today we sit on August 1, exactly one month away from the first topic that brought this series into my mind: September call-ups.

A little explanation for more casual readers first. On any given day (except for scheduled doubleheaders) a team’s Major League or “active” roster can have a maximum of 25 players available on it. They can be any combination of positions or any other way you choose to categorize the members. Now normally those up-to-15 players are assigned to various minor league affiliates of a parent club to play games daily. (I’m not going to get into ways that players don’t count against the 40-man limit or option years in this space.)

However, a codicil kicks in on September 1 whereas any player on the 40-man roster can be active for a Major League game. This period of time, give or take one month calendar month, is utilized in a handful of ways. Contending teams can bring up a couple of specialists to bolster their team. Maybe a pinch-runner or an extra lefty for the bullpen as two examples.

For teams like Milwaukee this season, however, the time is often used to get some players a little exposure to big league life, games, clubhouse, travel, etc and to see how they stack up in games against MLB-quality opponents. Many a player has made his debut in “the show” during September.

So, back to this season. How does this affect the Brewers? Well, plenty of players have already made their MLB debuts for Milwaukee already this season. Any of those could come back up to finish out the season. There are a number of others who haven’t yet debuted and also a couple of players (like the recently added Rob Wooten, and non-debuted Kyle Heckathorn) who the Brewers need to decide whether to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They could add someone to the roster for September to help them arrive at a decision.

Here are some names in groups with a little extra commentary…

Healthy players currently in the minors but who have spent time with Milwaukee this season:

Josh Prince, Sean Halton, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Blake Lalli

Healthy players on 40-man who haven’t yet been up this season:

Jesus Sanchez, Michael Olmsted, Ariel Peña, Santo Manzanillo

The Brewers have one spot currently open on the 40-man but could easily open another by moving Mike Fiers to the 60-day DL, for example. The Brewers may also have their hand forced on one spot should Mark Rogers return to health before season’s end.

The point being: Doug Melvin has some room to maneuver and get glimpses. That is something to look forward to. After all, given the results this season it’s all about the future at this point.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #73 Ariel Peña

BBtJN LogoHappy Friday!



…Friday’s Front Row Grill…

…at Miller Park…


…Opening Day…

…73 days until Opening Day…

…Oh! Time to talk about…

Ariel Peña.


Peña will be wearing number 73 this Spring Training, but you already knew that based on the premise of the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series.

Allow me to educate you on some things you may not know about the 6’3″, 190 pound, 23-year-old, right-handed starting pitching prospect of your Milwaukee Brewers.

From a personal standpoint, Peña hails from the Dominican Republic. He was born on May 20, 1989 in Los Jovillos.

Now as far as baseball goes let’s begin in that Peña was signed as an international free agent back before the 2007 season by the The Angels Angels of Not Los Angeles but in fact Anaheim, California, PST. His first professional season in affiliated ball was in 2007 when he pitched in the Dominican Summer League on behalf of the Angels. He was brought to the United States to continue his development in 2009, following two good-looking seasons in the DoSL.

As a 20-year-old in 2009, Peña has a strong season while pitching in rookie ball. He pitched in both Class-A and Class-A Advanced in 2010 and then pitched a full season in Class-A Advanced (with a singular spot start in Triple-A) in 2011.

Last season saw the promising starting pitcher take the next step in advancement as he was assigned to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. Peña was ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, PST’s farm system heading into the 2012 season. He lived up to the hype in Arkansas posting a line of: 19 G (all starts), 1 CG, 114.1 IP, 95 H, 43 R (38 earned), 2.99 ERA, 42 BB, 111 K, 1.198 WHIP, 8.7 K/9

Peña was a little homer prone as a Traveler, surrendering 14 long balls (12.4% of his outfield fly balls allowed), but nothing egregious. He pitched well enough during the first “half” of the year that he was selected as a member of the World team for the All-Star Weekend Future’s Game in Kansas City. It was at Kaufmann Stadium where some serious dents would be forced, hard, into Peña’s armor.

The USA team won that game by a final score of 17-5 (here is the box score, if you’re so inclined) and Ariel Peña’s line from that game reads thusly:

0.1 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR, 216.00 ERA

Unfortunately, my decimal point is not misplaced. It was an epic display of futility. I recall vividly watching the game and cringing anew at each batter Peña was left in to face. I felt bad for the kid by the end of it. “What a meltdown on a pretty big stage,” I thought.

Then, for a week or two, I had forgotten all about the performance. Ariel Peña was no longer a blip on my radar … at least not until it became pretty apparent that the Brewers were looking to trade Zack Greinke.

In looking around the league at teams which wanted Greinke and who they could offer in return, Peña’s name caught my eye. His stats in Arkansas were still quite good. You can see the numbers he finished with as a Traveler back a couple of paragraphs. But when word came down officially that the Angels were going to acquire Greinke and that Peña was part of the package coming back to Milwaukee, I was reminded about his Future’s Game performance. It was then that I went back and looked at his final starts between then and what was now. I’ll admit it, I was worried what I might find.

The Futures Game was played on July 8th. Peña’s first start back was July 14th. He would make three more starts for the Travelers before the trade came down. His combined stats in those games: 19.2 IP, 13 H, 7 R (7 ER), 4 HR, 7 BB, 18 K.

Two of the starts were seven full innings with a total of two earned runs surrendered (both in the first game on solo home runs). The middle game was a bad outing in which Peña went 5.2 innings pitching allowing five earned on five hits, including two home runs, and four walks. The key here that put me more as ease was that his last outing before Doug Melvin pulled the trigger was a 7.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K effort.

In short (too late!), the Future’s Game hadn’t affected his psyche like I had feared.

What happened after the trade is a matter of some confusion. Perhaps it was becoming acclimated to his new surroundings, mostly new teammates, new stadium, new routine, et cetera, et cetera, but over the seven starts he had remaining in 2012, Peña produced only two “quality starts” and had four where his ERA was at least 9.00.

He had one very good start of 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 6 K in his second outing as a Huntsville Star. Three starts later he would post his second “quality start”. This came one start after what was easily his worst outing of the year outside of Kansas City. Instead of being worried, I decided to actually be encouraged by the fact that this young player has shown more than once that he will respond positively to adversity. That’s a necessary quality in a starting pitcher at the big league level. When you’re facing the best of the best every single day (well, unless you catch Houston) at the Major League level, you will have bad outings. The ability to rebound off of a bad outing is paramount. Peña appears to have shown a propensity for that.

Scouts differ though on how all of that combines into projectability for a would-be starting pitcher.

One report I found said that Peña was “underwhelming in person” and that while the Brewers are likely hoping for more due to Peña’s durable frame, the writer said that Peña profiles as a “prototypical 7th inning reliever.”

As with any player, the true outcome will be determined by how he adjusts to the increasing level of competition as he advances up an organizational chain. The road to The Show is littered with the arms of promising players who couldn’t adjust. I don’t feel that Peña’s lot will be that, but he must improve in 2013 over a 7.24 ERA in 7 starts over 32.1 IP in which he allowed 40 hits and 23 walks.

He’s got a bit of wildness to him that can’t be ignored but his big fastball (reportedly touching 98 MPH), low 90’s sinker, and “wipeout” slider would make for a repertoire that can hang in a starting rotation. The best part though is that Peña is still young enough to harness his stuff at some point and still have a long and productive MLB career.

Peña will report to Spring Training no later than February 12th. He’ll train as a starting pitcher and throw as one once being sent back over to the minor league side. And while Spring Training numbers can’t always (and never should) be relied on to paint the picture of the upcoming regular season, once the lights go on Peña is going to a player to watch. Was he a “throw in” in the Zack Greinke deal as one evaluator stated? Or is he going to contribute as a starting pitcher one day at the big league level? Time will tell. The true test starts in April.

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

Official Brewers Press Release Regarding Trade of Zack Greinke

The Milwaukee Brewers today acquired infielder Jean Segura and right-handed pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena

from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke. All three players will be added to the 40-man roster

and assigned to Double-A Huntsville. To make room on the 40-man roster for these additions, the team designated infielder Edwin Maysonet and

outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard for assignment. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.

“We greatly appreciate Zack’s contibutions to the Brewers,” said Melvin. He will be greatly missed on the field and in the clubhouse. We

wish him nothing but the very best. We are also very excited about acquiring three good young players who are already on the 40-man roster. We

look forward to them joining organization and their future contributions to the Brewers.”

Segura, 22, entered the season as the Angels’ second-best prospect according to Baseball America. He began the 2012 season at

Double-A Arkansas, where he batted .294 with 7 HR, 40 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 94 games before earning a promotion to the Angels earlier this

week. Segura, who particpated in the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City and was a Texas League All-Star, made his Major League debut on

Tuesday vs. Kansas City, starting at shortstop. His first name is pronounced JEAN (like blue “jean”).

Hellweg, 23, entered the season as the Angels’ fourth-best prospect according to Baseball America. He went 5-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 21

starts with Arkansas this season.

Pena, 23, entered the season as the Angels’ ninth-best prospect according to Baseball America. He went 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 19 starts at

Arkansas this season. He also participated in the All-Star Futures Game. Pena held Texas League opponents to a .222 batting average this season

and recorded 111 strikeouts in 114.1 innings.