David Peterson is simply having an insane season.
Great effort by @_David_Peterson as he records his first career complete game and shutout, picking up 20 strikeouts along the way #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/gYa6bIxgBj— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 29, 2017
Peterson is Oregon’s Friday night ace. The big left-hander is having a career-season during his junior campaign, perhaps boosting his draft stock more than any other other collegiate arm.
The 6-foot-6, 240 pound southpaw had raw potential and clearly the frame to grow into to succeed. A basketball and baseball player in high school, Peterson suffered a broken fibula that all but ended his basketball days, making him the pitcher he now is. The Boston Red Sox liked what they saw in the Colorado high-schooler and selected Peterson in the 28th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Obviously, Peterson went on to the Ducks rotation.
Like many teenagers the size of a tree, Peterson had a nice strikeout arsenal but struggled with command. That is, until this year.
Peterson was 8-11 over the first 27 starts of his freshman and sophomore year. He posted an ERA in the low-fours, an 8.19 strikeout-per-nine rate paired with a 3.51 walks-per-nine rate. Again, the control was a bit of a concern as he threw 16 wild pitches and hit 22 batters over the same span.
Enter pitching coach Jason Dietrich and everything has changed.
Sure, it’s enticing that Peterson has become one of the best strikeout artists in the entire nation, as pointed out in this "Kings of the K" piece. He strikes out 12.76 per nine, ninth best in DI and his 107 strikeouts are tied for second.
Most impressive? Peterson has walked six batters. That’s a number that relievers who have pitched half of the innings Peterson has envy. 107-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. You can fake a lot of things as a pitcher. Command of the strike zone isn’t the easiest one to do.
Peterson’s 17.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio leads DI. He has done it primarily behind a nasty fastball-slider combo, but mixes in an a slightly above average change up and a rarely used curve that needs some work. The fastball velocity reports range from 89 to 94 miles per hour, and Baseball America had his slider in the low-80s.
Taylor Blake Ward of Scout.com further describes his arsenal:
Command will be the key to Peterson's success at the next level, but in college, he's been beating hitters with his low to mid 90's fastball with plus sink and arm-side run, helping him work away from right-handed hitters. The southpaw likes to work inside on lefties with his fastball, allowing the run and sink to break back into the zone, jamming hitters or making them stare at strikes on the inner half. Working from a low 3/4 arm slot, Peterson has shown good movement on all his pitches, with his fastball being the best of his trio. His best off-speed offering is his above-average low 80's changeup that he works against both righties and lefties. He works in a big-breaking curveball with a dipping break that he's shown a feel for, but still needs to be refined.
He and Dietrich worked on simplifying things and his mechanics. He now comes at the plate much more consistently and clearly throws strikes. And a lot of them. There still could be some improvement in his delivery, but clearly progress has been made.
VIDEO | Incredible effort on the mound by David Peterson as he strikes out 20 in a complete game shutout of ASU! https://t.co/Y7p3b7QEDF— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) April 29, 2017
I’m not a believer in mock drafts, especially in baseball where picks are determined as much by slot value as they are talent. I can’t project where Peterson will fall in the draft. That being said, if he and Oregon stay hot and he makes his present felt on the road to Omaha, Peterson likely pitched himself into first round conversation.