DJ Peterson was considered the top all-around college bat in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft as a third baseman out of the University of New Mexico.
The Seattle Mariners hope that says a lot about his big league future.
They selected Peterson, 21, with their top pick (12th overall) Thursday.
“DJ is one of the top college position players in the draft with tremendous athletic ability,” said Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara in a press release. “We look forward to having him in our organization and working his way towards being part of our Major League roster in the future.”
They’ve actually picked Peterson before – 990 picks lower.
Seattle selected him with the 1002nd pick (33rd round) of the 2010 draft.
“I think it was better for both of us,” said Peterson (his full name is Douglas Anthony Peterson Jr.). “They saw that I needed to work on some things and ultimately they were right. And they saw improvements on what I needed to work on and they gave me another chance this time around.”
He also signed a letter of intent that year to play at the University of Arizona until his scholarship fell through, the Wildcats decided to go with a Kentucky third baseman, and Peterson ended up landing in the Lobos program.
Peterson’s move to go to school clearly paid off. It basically forced the Mariners to draft him 32 rounds higher than he was three years ago as a 190-pound prospect out of Gilbert High School in Arizona.
He batted .408, fourth-best in NCAA Division I, and launched 18 home runs for the Lobos this year, earning the Mountain West Conference co-Player-of-the-Year honor. He took the Mountain West triple crown for the second consecutive year this past season after batting .419 with 17 home runs last year as a sophomore.
Peterson doesn’t come with nearly the hype of past Mariners picks such as Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen and Dustin Ackley, but Seattle picked much lower in the draft than in past years. It was only the second time in the past five years that the M’s haven’t owned a pick in the top three.
The last: 2008 when they took Taijuan Walker at No. 43. He is currently in Double-A Jackson.
He mostly played third base throughout his three years at New Mexico and was a shortstop in high school, but there’s a high possibility he projects as a first baseman at the major league level.
But Peterson was adamant he will do what he can to stay at third.
“If they told me, ‘We want you to slide to first to get to the big leagues,’ it’s what I would do,” he said. “But I feel strongly about my third-base skills, that’s where I want to stay and I want to prove to the mariners that’s where I want to play and I want to get up to the big leagues at third base.”
With current first baseman Justin Smoak producing less-than-expected results since he came to Seattle in a trade involving Cliff Lee, it might mean there is a legitimate timetable for Smoak to figure things out.