By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — D.J. Peterson showed why he was a first-round draft pick during his time with the Everett AquaSox. But now he’ll be testing his abilities at a higher level.
The Seattle Mariners’ top pick in this year’s draft saw his tenure in Everett come to an end when he was promoted Wednesday to Clinton go the mid-Class A Midwest League.
Peterson had just returned to the lineup Tuesday following a brief period out with a thumb injury. He went 2-for-4 in his final game with the Sox, and Everett manager Rob Mummau believes Peterson is ready for a greater challenge.
“I think so,” Mummau responded when asked if it was the right time for Peterson to get promoted. “He swung the bat very well here. He just had a good approach night in and night out, gave us good at-bats hitting in that 3-4 spot for us every night. He did a great job and now he’s ready to be challenged in Clinton.”
Peterson was the 12th-overall selection in June out of the University of New Mexico. He began his professional career with the Sox and ended up appearing in 29 games, showing legitimate power. He departed as the Northwest League’s leader in home runs (six), RBI (27) and slugging percentage (.532) to go along with his .312 batting average. His average gradually improved during his time with Everett.
“He was a stabilizer there in the middle part of the order and did a fantastic job for us,” Mummau said. “No complaints from me.”
One of the questions regarding Peterson at the time of the draft was where he would play in the field. The Mariners drafted Peterson as a third baseman, but there was speculation Peterson would have to move to first base. However, Peterson played almost exclusively at third for the Sox. Although he made his share of errors (he finished with a .914 fielding percentage at third) and didn’t display a cannon arm, Mummau believes Peterson can stick at third.
“I thought he did great,” Mummau said of Peterson’s defense. “Coming in he had mostly played first base in college this year, but had played third base in the past. We wanted to see what he could do, because it’s a lot easier to go from third to first than from first to third. We wanted to see what he could do and I thought he did a great job.”
Peterson was the second straight first-round pick to spend substantial time with Everett. Last year catcher Mike Zunino also appeared in 29 games with the Sox, batting .373 with 10 homers and 35 RBI, and just a year later he’s the Mariners’ No. 1 catcher. Prior to Zunino, the longest a Seattle first-rounder played in Everett was when Jeff Clement appeared in four games in 2005.
“(Peterson) was here four or five weeks, got to work on a few things defensively and offensively,” Mummau said. “He’s a true pro and we were very happy to have him.
“There was nothing in particular (that Peterson improved during his time in Everett), just a little bit of everything,” Mummau said. “It was seeing the better pitching here and reading pitchers, talking about hitter’s counts with different pitchers. But nothing too drastic.”
Peterson’s departure leaves a huge hole in Everett’s lineup. Peterson had a quality OPS of .914 (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Going into Wednesday, the next highest OPS among current Sox was Justin Seager’s .695.
“Some of the guys are going to have to step up, and I’m sure they will,” Mummau said. “It might be a little bit different club. We’ll just try to scrap for runs.”