D.J. Peterson, who had one of the best years of any hitter in the minors in 2014, finally has something to be happy about here in 2015. That is because the Seattle Mariners' 1st round pick from 2013 and consensus Top-100 prospect entering the year has been promoted from Double-A Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma the club announced today.
Peterson, 23, hit a combined .297/.360/.552 with 63 extra base hits -- 31 of those being home runs -- and 111 RBI in 123 games in his first full season of pro ball last year, advancing to Double-A and earning Co-Player of the Year honors in Seattle's system. But the entire 2015 season has been a rough one for him as he has hit just .223/.290/.346 in 93 games for the Generals. Still, the Mariners had seen improvements in his approach and results recently, moving him to Tacoma this morning where he will try and build on that recent success in a more hitter-friendly league.
Generals' Manager of Media Relations and Broadcasting, Brandon Liebhaber, has watched Peterson all year, and he saw some changes of late that led to some of those better results for the right-handed hitter. "The past few weeks, he has done a very good job of staying balanced and going the other way," Liebhaber told me. "He beat a few shifts that way when we played Montgomery." Although the overall numbers still pale in comparison to what D.J. did a season ago, and to what was expected of him, that improvement and the work he's put in of late is undoubtedly what led to this promotion.
"He has been working extremely hard," said Liebhaber. Continuing, "Over the past two months, I've seen him with hitting coaches and roving instructors in the batting cage constantly." From what I've heard throughout the season, that constant work with the organization was primarily used to undo some of the tweaks that Peterson made to his swing during last offseason, when he worked on his own with a non-affiliated hitting coach -- a move that wasn't well received by the M's.
"He was starting to turn the corner in Jackson," Liebhaber says. "July featured some of his best offensive performances; he hit in seven-straight games early in the month and had a grand slam in Mobile." Indeed, Peterson picked up two hits in three of his final five games for the Generals and had three extra base hits in that time. He has been playing much more first base than third base this year for Jackson, but indications are that he'll continue to split time at the infield corners in Tacoma.
In what has been a bad season all around for Mariners' prospects, Peterson's .200+ fall in SLG may be the most troubling for fans of the team who are waiting to see something to get excited about in a year with so much disappointment. But with Peterson on his way to Tacoma now, perhaps he can erase some of that bad taste and end 2015 on a strong note for the Rainiers and getting back to being the hitter he was a year ago.
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