4. David Peterson, LHP
Height: 6’6”, Weight: 240 lbs.
DOB: 9/03/95 (23)
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 Draft (University of Oregon, Oregon)
9 G (9 GS), 59.1 IP, 46 H, 16 R,12 ER (1.82 ERA), 11 BB, 57 K, .283 BABIP (Low-A)
13 G (13 GS), 68.2 IP, 74 H, 39 R, 33 ER (4.33 ERA), 19 BB, 58 K, .333 BABIP (High-A)
David Peterson pitched and played first base while attending Regis Jesuit High School, but quickly became apparent to coach Matt Darr that his future was on the mound. As a senior, he was named team captain of the Regis Jesuit High School varsity baseball team and posted a 1.15 ERA in 24.1 innings, striking out 40. He would have undoubtedly had a better season in his senior year, pitching more innings, but he broke his leg and was only able to pitch an abbreviated season. The Boston Red Sox were sufficiently impressed with him and drafted him in the 28th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but already having a verbal commitment to the University of Oregon and knowing that he could have been drafted much higher than the 28th round if he hadn’t hurt himself, Peterson elected to attend college. The southpaw didn’t exactly separate himself from the rest of the pack in his first year with the Ducks, posting a 4.39 ERA in 82.0 innings, allowing 79 hits, walking 31, and striking out 81. He posted similar numbers as a sophomore, posting a 3.63 ERA in 74.1 innings, allowing 64 hits, walking 30, and striking out 61. That summer, he was invited to play on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. During his time with the team, Peterson not only got to face some of the best talent in the world, including facing players from Japan, Korea, and Cuba, but he also got to learn from teammates Alex Faedo, Tanner Houck, Alex Lange, and J.B. Bukauskas- all premium talents like Peterson himself that helped him refine his slider and changeup. When Peterson returned to the University of Oregon for the 2017 season, only did he have the insight of his peers, but newly hired pitching coach Jason Dietrich brought a coaching regimen that benefitted the left-hander and he blossomed. He ended up setting career highs in virtually every statistic, posting a 2.51 ERA in 100.0 innings, allowing 88 hits, walking 15, and striking out 140. The Mets selected Peterson with their first selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, the 20th overall selection, and the two sides agreed to a signing bonus worth the slot value of $2,994,500.
The southpaw made his professional debut that summer, suiting up for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was used sparingly, owing to the innings he threw with Oregon and an ingrown toenail that was causing discomfort, appearing in three games and pitching only 3.2 innings. He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies to start the 2018 season, but he had his full-season debut delayed by a few weeks due to injury. When he finally got on the field, Peterson posted excellent numbers- as you would expect an advanced college pitcher to do. He was promoted to St. Lucie in mid-June and struggled a bit initially, suffering from a dead arm period, but ended the year strong.
Peterson throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, slinging the ball, which helps give his pitches movement. He uses a simple stride to the plate, without much excess movement from his long limbs, finishing over his front side. The left-hander wastes no time, going after and attacking hitters. Thanks to his solid frame, Peterson expected to be durable and could profile as an innings-eater going forward, though his weight may require maintenance in the future. His fastball sits 89-92 MPH, topping out as high as 94 MPH with arm-side run and sink thanks to the angle he throws it from. Peterson commands it well, and is able to move it around the plate, horizontally to work hitters both inside and out, and vertically to change their eye levels. He generally works inside against lefties with it, using the natural movement of the pitch to make it break back into the zone, jamming them or making them look at strikes on the inner half, and works away against right-handers, occasionally cutting the ball. He pairs his fastball with a slider and a changeup, the former of which is by far the better pitch. It sits 81-84 MPH and is considered an above-average pitch, with plenty of lateral movement, while the changeup sits 80-84 MPH and is considered a fringe-average-to-average offering, featuring firm tumble and fade but thrown indistinguishably from his fastball arm speed and angle.
Steve Sypa says:
David Peterson had his growing pains this season, getting off to a late start due to injury and then struggling in July after being promoted to St. Lucie a few weeks prior, but the southpaw is still very much the same kind of pitcher he was when he was drafted last season. The upside is limited but the floor is high enough that there is plenty of utility. The lack of a real plus put-away pitch is a bit concerning, especially as he faces tougher competition in the higher levels of the minors, but risk is mitigated to a degree by the above-average groundball rates that he has always generated.
Lukas Vlahos says:
Peterson is the type of college-arm that, if he’s successful, quickly moves through the minors before settling in as a back-end, MLB quality starter. Peterson has not done that, suffering from a multitude of injuries and a thoroughly underwhelming performances. He still has a reasonable chance to hit that mid- or back-end starter projection, but the quick timeline hasn’t come to fruition, and there’s now a whole lot more injury and performance risk baked into what was a low-upside profile in the first place.
Kenneth Lavin says:
2018 was a weird season for Peterson, mostly through no fault of his own. Drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft as a polished left-handed starting pitcher out of the University of Oregon, Peterson was assigned to the low-A Columbia Fireflies to start the 2018 season. He was clearly too advanced for South Atlantic League hitters during his time there, as he effortlessly got SAL hitters to swing through his advanced, low arm slot slider. The big lefty ended up posting a 1.82 ERA in 59.1 innings pitched across nine starts, while striking out 8.65 batters per nine innings and only walking 1.65 hitter per nine innings before being promoted to the Florida State League in June. Peterson initially struggled after the promotion, posting a 4.68 ERA through 68.2 innings pitched across 13 starts at the level. His peripherals were better than his mid-4.00 ERA suggests, as his 2.98 FIP was more than a run lower than his ERA. While his strikeout numbers and walk numbers took a hit after the promotion, Peterson did post a 62.9% ground ball rate and generally kept the ball in the ballpark, as evidenced by the fact that he allowed a mere 0.13 home runs per nine innings during his time in Port St. Lucie. Ultimately, we haven’t learned all that much about how Peterson’s arsenal will play against upper minors hitters, because the Mets decided to keep him in A ball all season. Peterson’s best weapon is a very advanced, low-arm slot slider, that he commands extremely well. He also has a change-up that is a work in progress, and a relatively soft fastball that sits in the 88-91 MPH range and has some movement to it. The big question for Peterson going forward is how much a liability is his fastball going to be against more advanced bats in the upper minors. Peterson should start the season in the Binghamton rotation, and could see himself on the cusp of a promotion in 2019 if things go particularly well there.