Mississippi left fielder Dustin Peterson was 2-4 with two runs batted in Tuesday to give Mississippi a 2-1 win over Mobile. Peterson is now hitting .277, with a .340 on base percentage, a .422 slugging percentage, a .761 OPS, 8 home runs, 23 doubles and 59 runs batted in.
Peterson is third in the Southern League with his 59 RBI. This will be the third season in a row Peterson has shown he can be a run producer. In his last year with the Padres’ organization, Peterson had 79 RBI in 527 at bats. Then last year, despite playing in only 118 games, Peterson had 62 RBI for the Carolina Mudcats.
Peterson turns 22 on September 10. So he’s still fairly young for the Southern League. If he had gone to college, he would have just been drafted last month. So the Braves feel good about his potential. But just how good is Peterson?
His batting average has improved the last three years, from .233 in 2014 to .251 last season and now .277 this year. His on base percentage has also steadily increased, from .274 in 2014 to .317 last year and .340 this season. The OPS has also gone up from .634 to .665 and now .761.
So can we expect more improvement from Peterson? He likely needs more time in the minor leagues, but this improvement and development has to have the Braves intrigued with Peterson’s future.
The one thing that is a question is Peterson’s power potential. He’s hit just 26 home runs since the start of the 2014 season. The Braves are desperate for a power hitter for the outfield. Peterson doesn’t have much speed, like a Mallex Smith. So what kind of hitter can Peterson be at the big league level?
Peterson’s defense has improved in left field since the Braves moved him there when he was acquired from the Padres before the 2015 season.
The Braves have Nick Markakis under contract for two more years after 2016. There is a chance Markakis could be traded before the August 1 deadline. Ender Inciarte is under control for four more seasons after this year, while Smith is in his rookie season. Peterson is first in line to get an outfield job if the Braves look internally for a new starter, but when will he be ready?
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