Dustin Peterson Ready for Another Breakout?

Dustin Peterson Ready for Another Breakout?

The 2017 season ended nearly as sadly for Dustin Peterson as it began. The latter included a broken hamate bone in his wrist. The conclusion saw Peterson reach base safely just 18 times over the final 85 PA (.212 OBP) with just two doubles. He struck out a third of the time he stepped into the batter’s box. All told, Peterson hit .248 with an identical OBP and SLG of .318. He homered once and one of the rising prospects in the system was falling like a rock in prospect rankings.

If early returns this spring are any indication, Peterson is primed for a big bounce-back campaign. On Sunday, he belted his second homer of the spring. The previous day, he hit his first. That gives him a 6-for-19 line this spring with a third extra-base hit, a double, mixed in. Now, let’s say what probably shouldn’t need to be said. Spring training stats need to be taken with the biggest grain of salt you can find. Just by looking at the totals, you don’t know if a player was facing a likely member of an opening day roster or, as Major League put, a guy who will be “bagging groceries in two weeks.”

Just as important as it is to keep spring training stats in their proper context, it’s also important to remember that Peterson was a pretty intriguing prospect a year ago. Acquired in the Justin Upton deal less than two years after being a second-round choice by the Padres, Peterson has always been pushed hard. The Southern League isn’t kind to many 21-year-olds, but Peterson still slashed .282/.343/.431 with 52 extra base hits in 2016. He then more-than-held his own in the Arizona Fall League, hitting a cool .324 over with a .471 SLG over 71 PA. Again, there was a lot of reason to be hyped about Peterson before his injury.

Keep both of these things in mind – it’s just spring, but Peterson has some big potential. If he needed an offseason to truly get over his injury, he’s on pace to get back into things in a big way. There is also another factor – his swing. Take a look at this 2016 GIF from Garrett Spain of Talking Chop. Remember to follow here.

Notice where his wrists are? Okay, here’s a clip from when Peterson homered on Saturday. This clip comes from the Braves’ official twitter.

Here, Peterson has lowered his wrists and created a more efficient pathway to the ball. His swing is faster and stronger.

I’m not a swing expert by any means and I won’t pretend otherwise, but Peterson definitely looks like a guy who can generate even more power now. Of course, adjustments will occur. Pitchers will attempt to take advantage of the swing by trying to get on his hands. That’s the nature of baseball and that’s nothing new.

Regardless, Peterson could still become a nice productive bat for the Atlanta Braves moving forward. As I’ve said, it’s always been about potential with Peterson. It’s why the Braves wanted him and it’s why the Padres spent such a high pick on him. Scouts have always raved about the talent that was hidden in the disappointing numbers. All he needed was the right time, the right coaching, the right adjustments. There’s a chance that 2018 could see all three.

Of course, the Braves have Ronald Acuna Jr. He’ll man a spot in the outfield with Ender Inciarte by May. There is also Nick Markakis, who is entering the final year of a four-year contract the Braves signed for some reason as a rebuild began. I have to believe Atlanta checked the trade market for Markakis, but considering how teams are signing better players for less, the market is about dead at the moment for a guy like Markakis. Assuming he sticks around, there is also Lane Adams and Preston Tucker, though neither seems like long-term fits.

If Peterson parlays his spring production into some nice numbers with Gwinnett to open the year, I could see a situation where he is in the majors by August and stealing at-bats away from Markakis. If the Braves aren’t in the Wild Card race, they may even push Markakis out of the picture to get a bigger look at Peterson. In the end, if Peterson is back and can be the 2016 Peterson – or even better – teams that passed on stealing Peterson away for pennies in this winter’s Rule 5 draft will be crying about what could have been.


I’m still a skeptic, despite his hot start to the spring. His minor league numbers have just been so pedestrian, up to date, sans his time in Mississippi. As you pointed out, maybe it’s a case of right time and right coaching- but even if everything broke right for the guy, what’s his ceiling? To me, he seems 4th outfielder-ish… with the potential to start on a non-contender. It’d be fantastic if he broke out this year, though. It’d be nice to have a few shots at developing a power bat, outside of Riley- because the club has a lot of eggs in that basket right now.

I have really high hopes for Dustin. I think he has more potential than you’re thinking, King. Power hitters take some time to develop. Judge and Sanchez neither hit more than 18 HRs any full season in the minors. Both are 25 and bashing. If Dustin returns to form at 23, he could be in the majors bashing away at 24. I have no expectation that he’ll be anywhere near Judge/Sanchez but I’d sure take 20-25 HRs per year from LF. It’s Lane and Preston that are going to be career 4th OFs. And they could be really good ones – especially Lane. Also note that Judge led the league in Ks last year, too. Maybe Dustin hits for higher AVG and fewer Ks and HRs but he’s still a solid starter. I think he only needs a couple of months at AAA to prove he’s back (if ST is any indication). Maybe he’ll make AA look good for not signing anyone. I like the idea of Markakis as a 4th OF. If that happens and Riley comes next year and Jackson the following year, watch out world. I’m a cockeyed optimist. Acuna/Jackson will be better than Judge/Sanchez. I’m hoping for Dustin to become one of my favorites in the next few years.

Well, la ti da. Yanks just put Jake Cave on waivers – he’s Preston Tucker on steroids. Can we please pick him up and see if HE can do some bashing in LF?

While I totally agree with The Braves decision to leave Dustin Peterson off The 40 man roster (exposing him to The December Rule 5 Draft), I correctly predicted that he’d not get selected by any team. While he’s hitting the ball with power this spring….19 at-bats does not mean that he’s ‘made it back’ for sure!

Peterson needs to play REGULARLY for at least the first half of 2018 in Triple A. If he’s still tearing the cover off the ball through then…The Braves would probably make an effort to trade Markakis after The ASB and make room for Peterson (if anything, it would be nice to see if Peterson, at age 23, can hit MLB pitching BEFORE The 2018 Season ends…especially given that The Braves may well have to spend SIGNIFICANT Free Agent Money on signing a left fielder).

Imagine The Braves good fortune…IF Peterson turns out to be a LEGIT, middle of the order power hitter who can play a decent left field…to combine with Acuna in right? Peterson would not even be eligible for arbitration…until after The 2021 Season (while Acuna would be eligible after The 2020)! While I’m still itching for The Braves to go after Bryce Harper to play left…if Peterson were to force The Braves to consider him as a LEGIT middle of the order power hitting left fielder….The Braves would be positioned to LEGITIMATELY OUTBID virtually every MLB team for Manny Machado!

I’m not 100% sold on Peterson…just pondering a ‘what iff’…given Peterson’s recent showing in Spring Training (and what he could possibly do in 2018 in Triple A and in Atlanta).

Someone asked Dan Szymborski on his Fangraphs chat today if there were better odds on the Braves making the playoffs in 2018 or they would sign either Harper or Machado next year and he chose making the playoffs this year. This article was also posted today


Braves did not get even an honorable mention as a potential suitor. Don’t get your hopes up…… The Braves won’t even try for Machado since he plays SS.

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