"I look at his stuff, I don't know how he's not the top prospect in baseball," Braun said on Sept. 16, after Peralta had allowed only two Mets hits in eight scoreless innings. "He's got dominant stuff. There are very few guys who have stuff like that in Major League Baseball."
Braun can direct his complaints to MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. The Top 100 list is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
Peralta, 23, is in the final throes of prospect status if things go his way. He's one of four candidates for three spots in the Brewers' 2013 starting rotation, behind Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada. And judging from manager Ron Roenicke's comments at the team's weekend fanfest, Peralta has a great chance of making the cut.
"Peralta has a huge upside," Roenicke said. "If he pitches like he did a few of those games last year, he's got a huge upside."
The manager was talking about Peralta's five September starts in 2012, in which he went 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 28 innings. He averaged a 95.5 mph fastball, per the website FanGraphs.com.
That performance came after Peralta was 7-11 with a 4.66 ERA at Triple-A Nashville, with nearly as many strikeouts (142) as innings pitched (146 2/3). He was sixth in the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts, but he also led the circuit with 78 walks, a flaw that Brewers coaches have long tried to correct. Peralta has been pitching in the Brewers' system since he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005.
Peralta's big break with Milwaukee nearly came in 2011 after Zack Greinke cracked a rib playing pickup basketball, which forced the Brewers to look for a replacement. They wanted Peralta to take the reins, but he faltered so badly in a Cactus League start against the Rockies, failing to get out of the first inning, that Roenicke & Co. decided to send him to the Minors.
When he got a second chance last September, Peralta exhibited much better poise and command. He pitched into the sixth inning in four of his five starts, and walked only one batter in three of those games.
"I've been working all season long on my command," Peralta said at the time. "Since I got here, I'm trying not to do too much. Just throw the ball and follow the pitch, and I've got way better command than I had in Triple-A. ... I'm just going to enjoy my time here and do the best I can. That's what I've been doing, and I'm pretty excited about the way that I've been pitching."
Peralta will have to earn a spot in Milwaukee's rotation. Other candidates for the three open spots include left-hander Chris Narveson and young right-handers Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers. Peralta and Fiers have Minor League options remaining.
Peralta was one of 37 right-handed pitchers in MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list. The Brewers were one of four teams with only one representative (along with the Braves, White Sox and Angels) and the Cubs were the only team with no representatives.
The Cardinals, Marlins, Rangers, Red Sox and Twins had six players apiece in the Top 100, but the Mariners led the way with 355 "prospect points," with each prospect on the list being assigned points as follows: 100 for No. 1, 99 for No. 2, 98 for No. 3 and on down. Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar was MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, followed by Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras.
MLB.com is planning to release updated, club-by-club Top 20 prospect rankings next week, and Peralta is expected to move back to the top of the Brewers' heap.