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Wily Mo the games next great slugger?

The Brew Man

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The name made me picture a fat guy working the door at a salsa club, but Wily Mo Pena was apparently the next great Yankee.

It was 1999 and George Steinbrenner had just shelled out $3.7 million to retain Pena's services for five years, before the 17-year-old had played a single minor league game. Pena received a stunning $2.4 million of it up front as a signing bonus.

Even more extraordinary was a stipulation in the contract that if Pena was not on the Yankees major-league roster by 2003, he would be placed on waivers, making him available to other teams. You knew the Yanks were sky-high on this kid if they agreed to that kind of ultimatum.

The Pena buzz quickly cooled when he hit .247 in the rookie league, and then .207 at Single-A Greensboro. Treading water at the Mendoza Line in Single A? Not what Yankees fans, or Steinbrenner, had in mind.


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