Peralta grew up in Samana, Dominican Republic, but moved to Santo Domingo when he was 11 in order to train with his uncle. He did not own a baseball glove until he was 11 years old. He practiced his throwing with a lemon.
- Wily is a big, thickly built guy and will always have to watch his weight. Conditioning is very important for him to stay on top of.
In 2009, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Peralta as the 22nd-best prospect in the Brewers organization. They moved him up to #14 in the spring of 2010. Then, in the winter before 2011 spring training, they moved Wily up to third best prospect in the Brewers' farm system.
And in the springs of both 2012 and 2013, Peralta was rated as the #1 prospect in Milwaukee's farm system.
In 2011, Peralta led the Southern League in ERA (3.46).
- Wily works hard and is very coachable, absorbing and applying it.
May 9, 2014: After his mother's visit, Peralta was never better. Her first trip to the U.S. to see her son play was a big turning point for Wily. Logic says that he found success last season when he started consistently commanding his slider, controlling an off-speed pitch, and harnessing opposing hitters.
But here's a more quixotic notion: Maybe Peralta just needed some of Mom's home cooking.
Either way, Peralta was just starting his second-half surge last July 9, when his mother, Miledy, saw him pitch as a professional for the first time. Wily responded with his first career shutout, a two-hitter against the Reds at Miller Park.
"Oh, man," Peralta said, remembering the moment. "It was amazing, man. The first time my Mom saw me play? That's amazing."
Miledy Peralta is deathly afraid of flying and had long resisted her son's invitation to visit the United States. He'd signed with the Brewers in 2005 during a period when Milwaukee did not operate a Dominican academy, so he went directly to Arizona to begin his professional career in 2006.
"She doesn't like baseball," Peralta deadpanned. "She told me when I signed, 'The only time I'm going to put baseball on my TV is when you're in the big leagues and you're the starting pitcher.' "
That is not to say Miledy was not supportive of her son's baseball dreams.
To the contrary, she "always supported me, since I started when I was 11 years old," Wily said. "We had to move to the capital, because where I come from is so small. I had more chances to play in the capital, and she always supported that. I left when I was 11 years old with my uncle.
"She knew that was the only way I could do this. We wanted to do it the right way. I loved baseball and she let me go."
The uncle was named Marcio, Peralta's mother's brother. Wily attended a school with a strong baseball program and drew the attention of scouts, including those of the Brewers.
For his Major League start, Peralta worked at a snappier-than-usual pace while scattering four walks, two singles and a triple in the best start of his budding big league career. He threw 113 pitches.
Mom was waiting outside the clubhouse after the victory.
"After the game, she was crying," Peralta said. "After that, I just got it going."
Miledy stayed at her son's apartment for the next two months, and he enjoyed a solid finish to his first full season. They were together all offseason, too, at the family's home in Banao, Dominican Republic, about 45 minutes from the capital of Santo Domingo. Peralta also spent time in his hometown of Samana, a beach town in the northeast of the country, where he is trying to expand leagues for children interested in baseball.
"Whenever I go back there, I'm doing everything I can," Peralta said. "If you want to play baseball, you should have the opportunity."
With her son's success, Miledy has softened her stance on baseball.
"Now, she likes it," Peralta said. "She learned. Now, she asks me all kinds of questions." (Adam McCalvy MLB.com 5/9/2014).
April 1, 2016: Wily Peralta knows pressure. The Brewers' choice to start opposite Giants ace Madison Bumgarner had never pitched an Opening Day, but he has swung for the fences in the Dominican Republic amid a star-studded field of big leaguers. If you don't think that constitutes pressure, you've never seen a group of Latin Americans play home run derby.
Five or six times over the past several winters, Peralta has gathered with the likes of Bartolo Colon, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Gomez at fields around the Dominican to play softball. Sometimes, they gather on New Year's Eve. Often, they never even get around to playing a real game, but that does not mean there's no competition.
"When you get into a home run derby, you want to show that you can win," said Peralta, who gets to channel his inner slugger. As a teenager, he tried out for the Brewers and other clubs as an outfielder before scouts focused on his sensational throwing arm and convinced him to convert.
"It's more fun than you can imagine," Peralta said. "I always get second place. [Mariners pitcher] Joel Peralta, he's always up there. Cruz always hits the farthest one, but he never hits the most. Two years ago, we [the pitchers] beat Gomez. He only hit, like, eight in the first round, and I hit 12. I was all over him. The whole next Spring Training, I let him know about it."
The pressure will be a different sort of intense at Miller Park at 1:10 p.m. CT, when Peralta becomes only the second international signee to start an Opening Day for the Brewers. Teddy Higuera started three season openers from 1986-88, but Higuera was an established professional when the Brewers purchased him from the Ciudad Juarez of the Mexican League in 1983. When Higuera made his big league debut in '85, he was already 27 years old. Peralta traveled a much longer road to this moment. The son of a fisherman, Peralta didn't have baseballs growing up, so he practiced his throwing mechanics with lemons. He did not start playing organized baseball until he was 11, but says he was touching 96 mph by the time he was 15.
Peralta's wife, Denny, and son, Wily Jr., were in the stands at Miller Park. Peralta's parents will wait for some sunshine later in the summer to attend in person, but will be watching at home in the Dominican. Will Peralta think about his long journey when he steps on the field Opening Day?
"Yeah, I'll think about that," Peralta said. "When I got here to the States, I didn't realize what Opening Day is like. Ever since I got to high-A, Double-A, I've been watching how excited people are for Opening Day. I'm really excited to be there. All those years in the organization, it's an honor. Finally, I made it." (A McCalvy - MLB.com - April 2, 2016)
May 5-9, 2016: Wily was on the paternity list.
In 2005, Peralta signed with the Brewers for a bonus of $450,000, out of Samana in the Dominican Republic. He was 16 years old. His buscon, or agent, was shopping to several teams as an outfielder due to his speed, athletic ability and raw power potential. But the Brewers were very impressed with his ability on the mound. So scouts Fausto Sosa Pena and Fernando Arango signed Wily.
January 15, 2016: The Brewers and Wily avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract.
Jan 13, 2017: Peralta and the Brewers avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal worth $4.3 million.
Dec 5, 2017: The Royals signed free agent Peralta.
Oct 31, 2018: The Royals announced a new one-year deal with closer Wily Peralta that includes a mutual option for 2020. Peralta had a team option for $3 million in 2019, but the Royals restructured his deal. Peralta will get a base salary of $2.25 million for 2019, plus a $7 million mutual option in 2020 with a $1 million buyout. In addition, Peralta could earn close to $1 million in performance bonuses if he finishes 55 games in 2019.
- July 24, 2019: Wily elected free agency.
- Feb. 18, 2021: The Tigers signed Peralta to a minor league contract.