The man with one of the most hilarious names in baseball has signed with the Padres on a minor league deal.
That’s right: just when you thought Wily Mo Pena was gone forever, the former Reds, Red Sox, and Nationals outfielder resurfaces. The 28-year-old former top prospect hasn’t played in the majors since 2008, spending 41 games in the Mets’ system last year and spending this year with the independent Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlanta League. Pena amassed an impressive .310/.337/.516 batting line with eight homers in 39 games.
Pena played in the majors from 2002-2008. He was good for SLG numbers between .489 and .527 in 2004-06, his age 22-24 seasons, and he even hit .301 in 2006.
But he also had major issues with the strike zone. Pena sports a career 520/106 K/BB ratio in 560 games, striking out in almost a third of his at bats while walking in merely 6%. He’s also had trouble with his conditioning that limits his range in the outfield. Oddly, he’s been much more effective in center field than in the corners in his career (according to UZR), but there’s no way the Padres let a 250-pound (if not more) outfielder roam Petco’s center pasture.
There’s always the chance that Pena can revert to 2004-06 form; he’s certainly young enough, and his independent league results are encouraging, given that the Atlantic League is the toughest independent league by far. He could wind up actually being a solid platoon partner for Will Venable, although Chris Denorfia and/or Aaron Cunningham look to be good in that role as well.
Pena reported to Triple-A Portland and is in the lineup tonight playing left field. Given his raw ability, he’s worth a Triple-A roster spot, particularly on a dreadful Portland team.