MLB Draft: Was DJ Peterson the Right Pick?
By JJ Keller
As announced earlier, the Mariners chose to take college 3rd/1st baseman DJ Peterson. DJ attended the University of New Mexico, and mashed there this year to the tune of a .408/.520/.807 line. While college stats don’t always mean all that much, everyone seems to think that this kid can and will hit.
Peterson was often connected to the Mariners, and mocked somewhere in their vicinity. I had a feeling he would be the pick barring Austin Meadows or Colin Moran falling for some reason. I wrote up a post a few weeks back detailing a few possible options. And for some stupid reason, I left Peterson out. At that point, I probably hadn’t done enough research. It seems like days after I posted that, Peterson started getting mocked in the 10-12 range, often to Seattle.
Oh well. All that matters is that he is here now, and should be a quality player in the future.
As I said, there were a lot of people as of late who had him going to the M’s, and it is easy to see why. He was one of the better college hitters available, and should do a little bit of everything. He seems to have great discipline, on top of some above average power. In fact, if you look at his bat alone, you could make a case for him in the top 10, even top 5.
The drawback though, is that the position he profiles best at is first base. And good hitters at first are not that hard to come by. Positional value matters a lot more than people think, and is the main reason he was not taken higher.
He has also played third base quite often, and he could stay there. It is no guarantee that he has to move. In fact, in his post-pick interview he seemed pretty confident in his abilities at third. Unfortunately, most other people do not seem to have quite as much faith in those skills. I have not seen enough of him in the field to form an accurate opinion, but it sounds like it may be 50/50 right now.
First is not the only option however. They could also opt to try him in left field, especially considering the M’s lack an impact outfield prospects, but have some depth in the way of third baseman. Again, I am not totally keen on his athleticism, but as Joel Condreay often says, if Mike Carp can learn left field, anyone can.
Good news is, wherever he plays, he is going to hit.
Overall, this was a pretty unsurprising choice. While there were a few surprises earlier in the round, they really didn’t impact the M’s. No one really fell to them, and Peterson wasn’t taken higher than expected.
There is one player who dropped a couple spots. And that was Washington native Reese McGuire. A lot of people had him going to the Pirates at 9, and he ended up going to them at 14 instead. I am sure many people would have liked to have seen McGuire in Seattle. For whatever reason, people like home town guys to stay in town.
However, it seems the front office did not feel that he was the best player available, and opted to let him pass. Part of the reasoning could be that they just drafted Mike Zunino in the first round last year, and wanted to fill another spot instead. But best player is always the way to go, so anything to that effect probably had a minimal influence.
There is a good chance the Mariners wanted a hitter from the start. And there is an even better chance that Peterson was at or near the top of their list. This offense has been anemic for what seems like forever, and Peterson is the closest thing to a “can’t miss bat” as there was in this draft.
It’s hard to know when he will see the bigs, but judging by his polish and experience in college, it probably won’t be too long. He could follow a similar path as Mike Zunino, starting out in the lower levels this year, but jumping up quickly. He won’t make it out of spring next year or anything, but he could be a September call-up in 2014, or make the team to start 2015.
It is always hard to project these guys so early because college stats are often inflated and inaccurate, and things change so quickly. But if I had to guess, I would say .280/.350/.470 is a definite possibility, with a chance to be even better. Hopefully he does not suffer the same fate as Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley, and can live up to his potential.