The Justin Upton trade from 18 months ago may turn out to be the best trade the Braves made in the rebuilding process.
Mallex Smith made a great impression in his time in Atlanta before his injury. Smith is considered a member of Atlanta's future outfield.
Max Fried is back after sitting out last year recovering from Tommy John surgery. Fried has pitched in 17 games for Rome and has a 3.50 ERA. He has 84 strikeouts in 82.1 innings.
Jace Peterson is a great contributor at the big league level. He has been the primary second baseman since last season. This year, Peterson is hitting .269 with a .345 on base percentage in 171 at bats. Even with Ozzie Albies likely the future second baseman, Peterson is carving out a roll for himself on the Atlanta roster with his ability to play multiple position.
But it's the other Peterson that may need more attention. Dustin Peterson is a 21-year-old right-handed hitter. He was considered the 'other' brother of D.J. Peterson, a top prospect for the Mariners. But now, Dustin is making a name for himself with a great year in Double-A Mississippi.
Peterson leads the Southern League with 107 hits and in at bats with 371. He's tied for second in RBI with 65 and all by himself in second place with 27 doubles. Peterson's .288 batting average is tied for 9th best, while his 162 total bases in third-best in the Southern League.
Peterson has only eight home runs, but he is on pace to set a career high, which was 10 that he had in 2014 with the Padres' Low-A affiliate. He has decreased his strikeout totals. In 2014, Peterson struck out 137 times in 527 at bats. Then last year in 446 at bats, Peterson struck out 91 times. This season in his 371 at bats, Peterson has struck out only 66 times. So he's on pace for right around 100 strikeouts if he gets another 150 at bats or so.
What is also impressive is Peterson's improvement in his batting average, on base percentage and his slugging percentage in the last three seasons.
Category - 2014 - 2015 - 2016
Batting Average - .233 - .251 - .288
On Base Percentage - .274 - .317 - .348
Slugging Percentage - .361 - .348 - .437
OPS - .634 - .665 - .785
Peterson has been outstanding since June 1, hitting .330 (59-179) with 3 home runs, 39 RBI and a .379 on base percentage.
Peterson turns 22 years old in six weeks, so he's had great success in the Southern League as a 21-year-old. With his trending improvements, the Braves have to have confidence Peterson may get better with more experience. He could get into the conversation about a future outfield job if he continues to do well in the last six weeks of the season.
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