Milwaukee right-handed pitching prospect Wily Peralta is making his way toward the Major Leagues.
How fast he gets there is up to him.
"It's always up to the player," said Brewers farm director Reid Nichols. "He's got a power arm, and he's a real bulldog. If you ask any of his former teammates, they would say he's the guy you want to go to battle with. He's got a chance to contribute soon in the Major Leagues."
Peralta, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, had a breakout season last year, going 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. He went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts for the Sounds and appears headed back to Triple-A to start the 2012 campaign. He will have plenty of eyes on him during Spring Training.
Peralta, the Brewers' top prospect, was ranked the 49th best prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com's Top Prospects list. Peralta and left-hander Jed Bradley, who ranked 97th, were the only Brewers Minor Leaguers to make the list.
"All players, with a very rare exception, have to learn in the big leagues, and Wily's right there to take that step," Nichols said. "If we have a need and he's performing or if you need somebody to start tomorrow, it could be him. He will have to perform to get the shot, but I think he's ready."
Bradley, another power arm, went 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts in his final season at Georgia Tech, and the Brewers are optimistic his success will carry over into pro ball. Taken 15th overall in last year's First-Year Player Draft, he signed too late to pitch in the Minor Leagues but did pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
"He did a respectable job in the AFL against the best talent," Nichols said. "He's going against guys that are getting ready for the big leagues, and he hadn't played pro ball yet. You have to remember that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and we are looking forward to see him compete in the future."
Top 20 Prospects:
Nichols wasn't sure what to expect from the club's Minor League system last year.
That's not the case in 2012.
"I think last year, we were better than we thought we would be," Nichols said. "This year, I am optimistic and I feel good about the year. We have some players that will contribute. We have players that will be recognized by baseball."
In addition to Peralta and Bradley, the organization has players like infielder Scooter Gennett, right-handed pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Tyler Thornburg along with infielder Taylor Green making strides.
There are high hopes for Gennett, who spent 2010 with Class A Wisconsin and, a year later, he hit .300 in 134 games for Class A Advanced Brevard County in the Florida State League. A midseason and postseason FSL All-Star, Gennett scored 74 runs, hit 20 doubles and drove in 51 runs for Brevard County.
The same can be said for Jungmann, picked 12th overall by the Brewers out of the University of Texas in last year's First-Year Player Draft, and Thornburg, selected by the Brewers in the third round in 2010.
Outfielder Logan Schafer, who was selected in the third round in 2008, could also make an impression. He played eight games for the big league club last season and hit .302 in the Arizona Fall League over the winter.
Pitcher Jimmy Nelson, taken in the second round in 2010, and outfielder Kentrail Davis, a first-round pick by Milwaukee in 2009, also give Nichols reasons to be optimistic about players making their way through the system.
brewers' top prospects
Under the Radar:
Right-handed pitcher Michael Fiers can throw all four of his pitches for strikes and struck out 132 batters in 126 combined innings at Double-A and Triple-A last season. His competitiveness makes up for an average fastball.
First baseman Nick Ramirez hit .369 in the Pioneer League last year and has the potential to be a good hitter. He lost some weight and improved his agility over the winter, and the club hopes his offseason work pays off this season.
Also keep an eye out for Orlando Arcia, an athletic teenage shortstop, who played in the Dominican Summer League last year. He'll get an opportunity to showcase his progress and possibly earn a Minor League job in Spring Training.
Hitter of the Year
Gennett hit .411 in 22 games for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, and the belief is that the winter experience against tougher competition will help him as he makes the transition to Double-A in 2012.
Pitcher of the Year
Like Gennett, Bradley spent part of the winter in the AFL, going 1-0 with a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 innings for the Peoria Javelinas. The club is eager to see his power arm develop and saw glimpses of his potential as a pro pitching against experienced hitters in Arizona.