|No. 7 — D.J. Peterson, 1B
|Acquired: First Round, 2013 Draft — New Mexico
Peterson was supposed to be a quick-fix bat inside of two years or so when the Mariners selected him with the No. 12 overall pick nearly four years ago. Most believed he’d have to slide across the diamond from third to first, reducing his overall value, but the bat wasn’t highly questioned by most.
Then Peterson was struck in the face by a pitch (August, 2013) and besides a .326/.381/.615 triple-slash in the California League at age 23, he hasn’t been the same. What’s eating him is breaking balls, being set up by hard stuff on the inner edge. His discipline has regressed and he’s often looked pull happy.
The organization believes he’ll be fine, but his 93-game stint in Double-A Jackson last season is worrisome. He was healthy, by all accounts, and the league was not full of high-stuff arms, yet he never strung together more than a few good games successively. He wasn’t any better when he was inexplicably promoted to Triple-A Tacoma in early August, going 3-for-14 before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season.
When he’s right, Peterson strokes line drives from right-center field all the way around to his severe pull side, peppering the left-field line with doubles. The raw power suggests 25-plus home runs per season and there’s enough in the swing and game plan to suggest a .260 average with above-average on-base marks in the .340-.350 range.
Peterson is a gamer. He’s tough and tough-minded, Doubting him is natural, but counting him out would be ignorant and absurd. Time is running out, however; if Peterson isn’t back to form in 2016, his chance at playing regularly in the big leagues sinks to near-zero. One way to tell that he’s going well is how often he’s hitting the breaking ball up the middle and where his swing-and-miss rate lands after a nice early-season sample of about 150 plate appearances — around one month’s worth of games.