It was pretty easy to pick out Lawrence’s Peralta brothers when they were playing Little League all those years ago.
While most chased butterflies in the outfield and ran the wrong way around the bases, the Peraltas were locked in the second the ball was placed on the tee. If they lost, it would hurt more than anything a 6-year-old could be upset about.
For them, even at such a young age, baseball was life or death.
But that’s just the way things have always been in the Peralta household. And, well, so far their love of the game has been rewarded.
Oldest brother Elvis was just drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 26th round of the 2019 MLB Draft (No. 794 overall) after having a first-team All-Conference USA season with Division 1 Marshall University. Younger brother Kebler, a senior a Lawrence High, could follow suit in a few years.
“(Elvis getting drafted) was the best thing ever to happen to our family,” said Kebler Peralta. “We both love the game of baseball. I’ve been playing since I was a little kid. I remember when I was 3-years-old I was already swinging a bat.
“Baseball runs in our blood.”
If you’ve been to any of Lawrence’s games this spring, it’s clear how much Peralta truly enjoys being on the field.
The rangy shortstop attacks every groundball with an ear-to-ear smile, and he swallows nearly every one of them up like a black hole eating a star. His superior glove has earned him the nickname “The Wizard” from Lancers coach Kevin Fielding, and at the plate he’s hitting an impressive .369 (24 of 65) from the team’s leadoff spot.
He’s a large reason why the Lancers (13-8) are a confident bunch heading into Monday’s Division 1 North quarterfinal game at Lexington (6 p.m.).
“There’s no team that can beat us when we play our best,” said Peralta.
BETTER THAN BROTHER?
Peralta’s dream is pretty concrete: He wants to be a professional ballplayer like his brother.
“That’s been the dream since we were young,” said Peralta. “We didn’t start playing baseball just for fun. We were little kids playing in Little League and we were taking it so seriously. And I mean, look at (Elvis) now, getting drafted.”
There is obviously a long way to go for the younger Peralta to make it, but he’s certainly drawing rave reviews.
“I’ve got to be honest,” said Fielding. “some of the plays that Kebler is making are plays his brother didn’t even make in high school. I’m watching plays that he’s making in the field and I’m like ‘He’s a wizard, man.’”
It came as no shock when Peralta was named MVC All-Conference, to Fielding or any other coach in the league.
“You’re asking for trouble when you hit the ball at Peralta,” said Central Catholic coach John Sexton. “He’s as good of a defensive shortstop as has been in this league in a long time. He’s spectacular, to be honest.”
Andover coach Dan Grams echoed the same sentiment earlier in the season: “He’s pretty incredible.”
Peralta, like his brother before him, is opting to go to junior college out of high school. He will attend powerhouse Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, where he’ll look to improve as a player before transferring to — hopefully — a Division 1 school after a couple of years.
“The coachable element is really there with him,” said Fielding. “He’s a great kid. I told him, wherever he wants to go in the future I’ll always put in a good word for him.”
Getting drafted, in any sport, is defying the odds.
Peralta doesn’t expect to be handed anything when he’s draft eligible in three years. He knows the work he needs to put in to defy those odds.
But, it helps when you have the perfect role-model in the family. Perhaps, someone who just went through the process and can teach everything he knows.
“(Elvis) has been a big influence,” said Peralta. “I see what he does at the next level and try to take hints from him. Any advice I get from him I cherish. He’s always been there for me. Whenever I’m sending him video of my swing he’ll always give me good advice with what to do. He’s been a huge influence for me.
“He’s my best friend.”
The two siblings, quite simply, are as close as can be.
“They’re inseparable,” said Fielding. “When they’re around each other it’s one and the same. And it’s always a smile from ear to ear when they’re playing baseball. It’s a larger than life smile.”
And maybe one day it’ll be two smiles that light up MLB ballparks.
1. North Andover 18-4
2. Pinkerton 15-7
3. Pentucket 14-7
4. Whittier 15-3
5. Lawrence 13-8
Honorable Mention: Andover (12-9), Greater Lawrence (12-9).
*Note: Brooks and Phillips not included in Fab Five.