Ariel Pena (RHP)
Profile: Originally signed by the Angels out of the Dominican Republic, back in 2006, Pena spent his first two seasons pitching in the Dominican Summer League, posting a record of 17-5 in 29 starts before making his way stateside in 2009. He spent the ’09 campaign in the AZL, then split 2010 between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He played the majority of the 2011 season in High-A, making one Triple-A start as well, and went 10-6 with 183 strikeouts in 155.2 innings of work.
Pena opened 2012 at Double-A Arkansas and handled himself well in the Texas League, posting a 2.99 earned run average in 19 starts, earning a spot on the World squad at the 2012 Futures Game in Kansas City. In late July, he was dealt to Milwaukee, along with pitcher Johnny Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura in a trade that shipped pitcher Zack Greinke to the Angels.
Following the trade to Milwaukee, Pena made seven starts at Double-A Huntsville and then spent all of 2013 pitching for the Stars, going 8-9 with a 3.73 ERA in 27 appearances, all as a starter. He advanced to Triple-A Nashville in 2014, where he appeared in 25 games, starting 24, and going 9-8 with a 4.56 ERA and striking out 140 batters in 128.1 innings.
The Brewers moved Pena to the bullpen in 2015 as he returned to Triple-A. He struggled some as a reliever but thrived after being re-inserted into the rotation in late July. In six August starts, Pena went 1-1 with a 1.65 earned run average.
Strengths: A hard throwing strikeout pitcher who has been clocked as high as 98 mph with his four seam fastball, Pena usually sits in the low-to-mid 90’s with his sinker. He also throws a sharp, biting, slider with late life that is a plus pitch when he can throw it for strikes. At 6’3″ 250, Pena is durable and can work deep in to games.
Weaknesses: The biggest knock against Pena is his lack of command. He gets wild at times and struggles to repeat his delivery. While Pena has put up good strikeout numbers throughout his career, he also walks more batters than you would like and when his mechanics are off, he’ll leave the ball up in the zone, resulting in some hard hit balls.
Future: Pena could be an option for the Brewers out of the bullpen or he could take the place of Matt Garza as the team’s fifth starter for the remainder of the season. He was removed from the 40-man roster previously, but with a couple of free spots and his strong late-season surge, Milwaukee was able to again add him to the 40-man to take a look at Pena over the season’s final month.