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Top Prospect Alert

Wily Mo Pena -- By Robert Sherry

Wily Mo Pena was originally supposed to be the property of either the New York Mets or the Florida Marlins, but after signing, but the commissioners office ruled that he had been signed illegally. The Yankees, never afraid to spend, swooped in to sign the Dominican Republic native in April 1999 and gave him a $3.7 million bonus. Pena's spent his first professional season playing centerfield for the Yankees Gulf Coast League team in Tampa (Rookie League). His finally statistics for the 1999 season included a .247 average (41-166) to along with 7 HR's, 1 triple, 10 doubles, 26 RBI, 3 steals, 12 BB's, and 54 K's. Wily stands at 6 foot 2 and about 190 pounds. He obviously needs to cut down on the strikeouts (almost 1 K to every 3 AB's) but you must remember that he played as a 17 year old. The GCL was full of players will lots of potential [Enrique Cruz (NYM), Pat Manning (ATL), Chip Ambres (FLA), Ramon Santiago (DET), Jose Morban (TEX), Hank Blalock (TEX), and Alexis Gomez (KC)], yet Wily (and Cruz) were the 17 year old's in that group and Pena hit more home runs and was 3rd in RBI among this group, behind Blalock and Gomez. Wily could end up being the best of this group.

It is hard enough trying to predict future talent that you have spent a season or so playing in a full level league, let alone trying to measure up someone who has only played as little professionally as Pena has, but all he tools are there that equal stardom. I would guess that the Yankees may have him repeat the Gulf Coast League in 2000 just to get him more professional experience. Expect the average to climb alot as Wily has 5-tool potential. The Yankees have their current centerfielder, Bernie Williams, locked up for several years yet and that is what Pena needs in developmental time. By the time Pena is ready, Williams will only have a couple of years left on his contract and you could be looking at a low cost alternative. Similar to what the Yankees have currently with Alfonso Soriano (over Chuck Knoblauch) and Nick Johnson (over Tino Martinez). Wily Mo Pena is certainly someone to keep an eye on in the lower levels.


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