Name: David Peterson
Weight: 240 lbs.
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 1st Round (University of Oregon)
2019 Season: 24 G (24 GS), 116.0 IP, 119 H, 63 R, 54 ER (4.19 ERA), 37 BB, 122 K, 6 HBP, 2 BLK, 3 WP, .342 BABIP (Double-A)
David Peterson pitched and played first base while attending Regis Jesuit High School, but it quickly became apparent to coach Matt Darr that his future was on the mound. As a senior, he was named team captain of the baseball team and posted a 1.15 ERA in 24.1 innings, striking out 40. He would have undoubtedly pitched more innings that year but 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.
Peterson 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. Over the two levels combined, he posted a 3.16 ERA over 128.0 innings, allowing 120 hits, walking 30, and striking out 115. Promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2019, Peterson had a comparable season, posting a 4.19 ERA in 116.0 innings, allowing 119 hits, walking 37, and striking out 122.
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.
David Peterson is nothing resembling bad, but he’s just boring. He was an uninspiring selection in the 2017 MLB draft, had a fairly uninspiring season in 2018, and had a fairly uninspiring season last year. The complete package is most likely enough to get major league hitters out with some regularity, but nothing jumps out at you. Sometimes those are the guys that go on to have long, long careers though, so who knows.
Peterson was better than I realized in 2019, striking out more than a batter per inning and limiting walks at Double-A en route to a 3.19 FIP. It’s disappointing that he hasn’t moved faster given that he was drafted as a close-to-ready college arm, but those are numbers that will play, even if he was a bit old for the level at 24 and still doesn’t have a truly plus offering. The most notable concern would be the limited innings, as Peterson averaged fewer than five innings in his 24 starts and totaled fewer innings than he did in 2018. Hopefully this was nothing more than a load-management strategy from the Mets and not a sign of another injury, as Peterson has already been slowed by several trips to the IL. Expect Peterson to start the season at Triple-A and get a chance to fill in when the Mets inevitably need a spot start at some point this season.
Peterson spent the entire 2019 season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and while his performance there may not have particularly exciting, he did pitch reasonably well in his first taste of the high minors. He managed to post a relatively solid 4.19 ERA with a 3.19 FIP in 116.0 innings pitched across a career high 24 starts , and managed to increase his strikeouts while continuing to keep walks to a minimum. With the pitching depth in the Mets organization being as thin as it is, Peterson figures to be in the Mets rotation plans in some capacity during 2020, and it’s entirely possible that he provides the team with quality innings if starting pitcher injuries open up a rotation spot at some point in the upcoming season.
Peterson posted his best strikeout numbers of his budding career in Double A, netting a 9.47 K/9, but sacrificing some ground balls in the process (52.6% GB rate, the first time he posted one below 62% in his career). He did not have the best season overall, though, posting a 4.19 ERA in 116 Double A innings. He does not possess the highest ceiling in the world, which is probably a mid-to-back end starter, mostly due to his unimpressive fastball and a lack of a true put away pitch. As it stands today, Peterson is almost certain to see some major league time in 2020 due to the total lack of pitching depth in the upper minors for the Mets.