Peterson Polishing His Game

Ranked fourth in the NY-Penn League in saves, with eye-popping strikeout totals, closer Nick Peterson was one of six Staten Island Yankees selected to the All-Star Game. Peterson had to work out of a bases loaded jam in his All-Star appearance, but held off the NL team and earned the win.

"It was great," Nick Peterson said of the All-Star nod. "It's an honor being able to go out there and represent our team. Fortunately, six of us got to do it, and so I think we represented the team pretty well. As far the game goes, it's pretty much just the same. It's going out there, having a good time, and putting on a show for the fans. That's why they do the home run derby and the game and everything. But we had a good time. I'm glad to be part of it."

It might be for the fans, but Peterson he took some personal satisfaction from the game as well. When asked if he enjoyed earning the win and receiving the Most Outstanding Pitcher award, he laughed, "Oh sure, of course! It's always fun and it was neat. It's something I can say, ‘I got a win in an All-Star game.'"

Peterson has enjoyed great success in his first professional season. In 25 2/3 innings this year, he has posted a 2.45 ERA while recording 11 saves and 37 strikeouts. After the draft in June, Peterson told PinstripesPlus that he was unsure how his stuff would translate to professional baseball.

"I don't know," he said in June as to whether he was a power pitcher. "I've been overpowering in my career. That's the way I've always been because I could blow my fastball past people in high school and college, but I realize that won't continue in the professional ranks."

So far, though, it has continued in the professional ranks and Peterson admits he is surprised at how well his season has gone. However, he believes there is reason for his success.

"I think it's been hard work," Peterson said. "I wouldn't say it's been smooth. But I wasn't expecting all this. I was probably expecting to struggle a little more than I have. The competition is good. The guys are good here. They're here for a reason. But, I've been fortunate and I've been throwing the ball alright."

The one negative on Peterson's season has been a high walk total. He has walked 21 batters this season, for a rate of 7.35 walks per 9 innings pitched. Peterson is aware of the problem, but is not overly concerned.

"I don't know," Peterson said as to why his walk totals are high. "I try not to get too worked up over it. I try to work right around the plate, attack the hitters, and sometimes you miss. I don't like to throw the ball right down the heart of the plate. I kind of nick-pick at the corners sometimes and I do that too much and that results in walks."

"As long as you're able to," he said, then laughed, "I've gotten into a lot of those situations and been able to get myself out of them! It's not always going to happen. Walks kill you, and it's something that I'm working on here."

"I think [it's] because he tries to be too fine sometimes," manager Gaylen Pitts concurred. "He can locate his fastball and a lot of times in this league, they don't call them on the corners. That has more to do with his high pitch counts and walks than anything. And his slider has something to do with it, because he doesn't have command of it yet, so they don't swing at it down in the dirt. So it's been ball one, ball two when he throws it. If he doesn't get a swinging strike, he doesn't get too many called strikes with it."

Peterson has focused on developing the slider most of the season, to compliment his good fastball, but he still has not mastered it.

"He needs work on his breaking ball," Pitts said. "He's throwing the slider now. He can spot his fastball, locates it real well, but he is going to have to have something to go along with it. We've been working hard with him on the slider, and he's working real hard on it. But he still babies it and doesn't really finish it, so that's something he needs to work on, getting another pitch here."

"It's coming around," pitching coach Carlos Chantres said. "He came in here not having a slider. He just came in here working on it and it's getting better. It's not to where we want it to be yet, but it's getting better. It has a lot of potential. I mean, he has shown that he can throw it. It's just consistency and trusting it, basically. And he knows what he's got to do. He's just got to trust it."

"Yeah, sometimes," Peterson said when asked if the slider contributed to the walks. "I don't always have a feel for that. That's one of the big things I'm working on, being consistent with the slider. And that'll come. Some days it's good and some days it's not, but the key to this game is consistency and that's what I'm trying to work on."

While throwing the slider for strikes is part of the problem, nit-picking too much with his fastball has been the biggest factor in his walk totals. Chantres says that being too fine takes Peterson away from his game at times and believes it's a dangerous habit for a closer.

"In the situation that he comes in, he's got to go right after the guy," Chantres said. "He can't be putting anybody on. He's the closer. He comes in with a one, two-run lead, so he's got to go right after them. There's sometimes when he has good misses and it is right there, but he gets too fine and he pitches away from contact, and that's not his game."

So far, the walks have not haunted Peterson because he bears down in tight situations. NY-Penn League hitters have just one hit off him in 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and no hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs. Peterson showcased this clutch ability in his All-Star appearance. After loading the bases with two hits and a walk, he struck out the next two batters to end the threat without a run.

"I think that's why I enjoy the position I'm pitching in, being the closer," Peterson said. "Sometimes it appears that I put myself in those positions and try to work my way out it, but I like the pressure, the game on the line. That's how I like to work."

Before learning of the Yankees' plans, Peterson said that he would have preferred to remain a starter after the June draft. Now, he has taken to the role and his comfort as the closer appears in his season statistics.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "I love it. I love being the closer. I love starting. I love anything. Anything I can do to help the team win."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It was great,\" Nick Peterson said of the All-Star nod. \"It's an honor being able to go out there and represent our team. Fortunately, six of us got to do it, and so I think we represented the team pretty well. As far the game goes, it's pretty much just the same. It's going out there, having a good time, and putting on a show for the fans. That's why they do the home run derby and the game and everything. But we had a good time. I'm glad to be part of it.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt might be for the fans, but Peterson he took some personal satisfaction from the game as well. When asked if he enjoyed earning the win and receiving the Most Outstanding Pitcher award, he laughed, \"Oh sure, of course! It's always fun and it was neat. It's something I can say, ‘I got a win in an All-Star game.'\"
\r\n
\r\nPeterson has enjoyed great success in his first professional season. In 25 2/3 innings this year, he has posted a 2.45 ERA while recording 11 saves and 37 strikeouts. After the draft in June, Peterson told PinstripesPlus that he was unsure how his stuff would translate to professional baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know,\" he said in June as to whether he was a power pitcher. \"I've been overpowering in my career. That's the way I've always been because I could blow my fastball past people in high school and college, but I realize that won't continue in the professional ranks.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far, though, it has continued in the professional ranks and Peterson admits he is surprised at how well his season has gone. However, he believes there is reason for his success.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think it's been hard work,\" Peterson said. \"I wouldn't say it's been smooth. But I wasn't expecting all this. I was probably expecting to struggle a little more than I have. The competition is good. The guys are good here. They're here for a reason. But, I've been fortunate and I've been throwing the ball alright.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe one negative on Peterson's season has been a high walk total. He has walked 21 batters this season, for a rate of 7.35 walks per 9 innings pitched. Peterson is aware of the problem, but is not overly concerned.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know,\" Peterson said as to why his walk totals are high. \"I try not to get too worked up over it. I try to work right around the plate, attack the hitters, and sometimes you miss. I don't like to throw the ball right down the heart of the plate. I kind of nick-pick at the corners sometimes and I do that too much and that results in walks.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"As long as you're able to,\" he said, then laughed, \"I've gotten into a lot of those situations and been able to get myself out of them! It's not always going to happen. Walks kill you, and it's something that I'm working on here.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think [it's] because he tries to be too fine sometimes,\" manager Gaylen Pitts concurred. \"He can locate his fastball and a lot of times in this league, they don't call them on the corners. That has more to do with his high pitch counts and walks than anything. And his slider has something to do with it, because he doesn't have command of it yet, so they don't swing at it down in the dirt. So it's been ball one, ball two when he throws it. If he doesn't get a swinging strike, he doesn't get too many called strikes with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nPeterson has focused on developing the slider most of the season, to compliment his good fastball, but he still has not mastered it.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needs work on his breaking ball,\" Pitts said. \"He's throwing the slider now. He can spot his fastball, locates it real well, but he is going to have to have something to go along with it. We've been working hard with him on the slider, and he's working real hard on it. But he still babies it and doesn't really finish it, so that's something he needs to work on, getting another pitch here.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's coming around,\" pitching coach Carlos Chantres said. \"He came in here not having a slider. He just came in here working on it and it's getting better. It's not to where we want it to be yet, but it's getting better. It has a lot of potential. I mean, he has shown that he can throw it. It's just consistency and trusting it, basically. And he knows what he's got to do. He's just got to trust it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah, sometimes,\" Peterson said when asked if the slider contributed to the walks. \"I don't always have a feel for that. That's one of the big things I'm working on, being consistent with the slider. And that'll come. Some days it's good and some days it's not, but the key to this game is consistency and that's what I'm trying to work on.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile throwing the slider for strikes is part of the problem, nit-picking too much with his fastball has been the biggest factor in his walk totals. Chantres says that being too fine takes Peterson away from his game at times and believes it's a dangerous habit for a closer.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the situation that he comes in, he's got to go right after the guy,\" Chantres said. \"He can't be putting anybody on. He's the closer. He comes in with a one, two-run lead, so he's got to go right after them. There's sometimes when he has good misses and it is right there, but he gets too fine and he pitches away from contact, and that's not his game.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far, the walks have not haunted Peterson because he bears down in tight situations. NY-Penn League hitters have just one hit off him in 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and no hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs. Peterson showcased this clutch ability in his All-Star appearance. After loading the bases with two hits and a walk, he struck out the next two batters to end the threat without a run.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think that's why I enjoy the position I'm pitching in, being the closer,\" Peterson said. \"Sometimes it appears that I put myself in those positions and try to work my way out it, but I like the pressure, the game on the line. That's how I like to work.\"
\r\n
\r\nBefore learning of the Yankees' plans, Peterson said that he would have preferred to remain a starter after the June draft. Now, he has taken to the role and his comfort as the closer appears in his season statistics.
\r\n
\r\n\"It doesn't matter,\" he said. \"I love it. I love being the closer. I love starting. I love anything. Anything I can do to help the team win.\"
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