Who is David Peterson?
Former 28th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2014 MLB Draft, David Peterson was the University of Oregon's ace in 2017 and has enough helium to be penciled in as a Top-15 selection come June. Last year, Peterson had a decent season for the Ducks starting 13 games with a season line that didn't jump out: 74.1 IP 3.63 ERA 64 H 30 BB 61 K. What was impressive is that he only allowed two home runs in 2016, and it was enough to earn a spot on the Collegiate Team USA squad last Summer. In six games, Peterson tossed 14 IP with a 2.57 ERA 7 BB 13 K out of the bullpen.
What's changed for Peterson is new Ducks pitching coach, Jason Dietrich. Baseball America's Michael Lananna highlighted the changes Dietrich had Peterson make.
"Under Dietrich’s guidance, Peterson has refined his changeup and turned it into a more effective weapon. Primarily a two-seam pitcher in the past, Peterson has mixed in more four-seamers at the advice of Dietrich, using it to steal strikes on both sides of the plate. The coach and his ace have retooled his mechanics, improving his direction toward the plate, getting the lefthander to finish over his front side instead of falling off or leaking, and keeping his nose pointed toward the catcher’s glove."
Those changes have delivered eye-opening results. Peterson not only lasted longer in games (93.1 IP in 14 starts), but his strikeout totals were startling. He punched out 17 batters against Mississippi State, and in his masterpiece on April 28th versus Arizona State put Peterson on the map.
9 IP 4 H 0 R 1 BB 20 K
In total, Peterson has struck out 131 batters to just 13 walks. A fantastic strikeout to walk ratio that both scouts and analysts would agree is a projectable major-league starter.
How does Peterson Rank?
Using the MLB Draft Prospect Average tool, Peterson ranks 23rd.
Baseball America: 16th
ESPN: Not Ranked
Hero Sports: 26th
What is Peterson's game?
MLBPipeline's scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 40 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Watching Peterson's last start against USC, I'm impressed with how well he commands his fastball. Often establishing strike one on righthanded hitters on the outside corner, and then moving his fastball vertically to change the hitter's eye level. Attacking hitters like that helps him get swinging strikes with his slider that breaks to the back foot of righties with a good late bite. Not as great as Carlos Rodon's or Chris Sale's, but it's a plus pitch.
What I think will take Peterson to the next level is his changeup. I know that MLBPipeline only grades the pitch to be average, but with enough repetition that can be another plus pitch in Peterson's arsenal. If a team wanted him to dump the curveball to just focus on fastball - slider - changeup, I think that would be a smart move. That breaking pitch often gets hung up in the zone, and advanced hitters will punish him unless he makes significant adjustments with that pitch.
What does Peterson look like?
Peterson has terrific size for a future starter at 6'6" and 235 pounds.
Why would the White Sox draft him?
You can never have enough pitching. While White Sox fans wait for Carlos Rodon to make his first rehab starts and the impending arrival of pitchers Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez, it's wise to hedge your bets when it comes to hurlers. Peterson has the makeup and stuff that pitching coach Don Cooper could mold into a projectable starting pitcher to follow in the line of very successful lefties: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Rodon, and even Derek Holland this year.
Why would the White Sox look elsewhere?
One of the top high school bats (Nick Pratto, Jo Adell, Austin Beck), or one of the top college pitchers is available (Alex Faedo, JB Bukauskas). As the White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting, Nick Hostetler, said on the South Side Sox Podcast (Episode 135), this is going to be "An odd, very difficult draft." If the Sox don't like the bats available at 11, and Faedo is already selected, I believe Peterson would be a good value, especially if the Sox can sign him under-slot.