School: University of Oregon; Class: Junior
Position: LHP; B/T: L/L
Height: 6-6; Weight: 235
Previously Drafted: Boston Red Sox, 28th round, 2014
Background: The big lefty built in the same mold physical mold as San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner, Peterson, who stands a Bumgarner-esque 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, twirled one of the most dominant collegiate games in recent memory. In a late April contest against the Arizona State Sun Devils, the former late round pick by the Boston Red Sox coming out of high school fanned a Roger Clemens-like 20 hitters en route to winning the contest 2-0. Peterson coughed up just base-on-balls and surrendered just four hits across his dominant nine-inning appearance.
That performance has just become commonplace for the big lefty out of Denver, Colorado.
In total, he’s thrown a career-best 100.1 innings of work, fanning 140 hitters (tied for second best mark among all Division I pitchers), and walking just 15 en route to tallying an impressive 2.51 ERA for the Ducks.
Peterson, a three-year rotation stalwart for Head Coach George Horton, has compiled a 257.2 innings in his storied career, posting a 282-to-76 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And that doesn’t include two separate stints with Team USA: the lanky southpaw threw 7.2 innings in the summer of 2015 and another 14.0 innings the following season.
Projection: Currently, at the time of this writing, Peterson’s the only pitcher in Division I ball to record at least 115 strikeouts with 15 or fewer walks. Impressive enough, sure, but let’s see how that stacks up against all Division I arms since the start of 2011:
- Just five pitchers – Aaron Civale, Taylor Clarke, Thomas Eshelman, Kyle Freeland, and David Middendorf – have recorded at least 115 strikeouts with 15 or fewer walks in a season.
- Civale was a third round pick by the Indians in 2016. Clarke was a third round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2015. Eshelman was drafted by the Astros in the second round two years ago. Freeland was the eighth overall pick of the Rockies in 2014. And Middendorf, the outlier, was taken in the 22nd round by the Royals all the way back in 2011.
But here’s the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae… Since 2011, no pitcher has thrown at least 90 innings in a season, average at least 12.5 strikeouts and fewer than 1.5 walks per nine innings. If the season ended today, Peterson would become the first to do so.
One red flag to be cautious about – Peterson’s dominance, regardless of the fact that he’s spent parts of two summers pitching for Team USA, extends no further than the 2017 season. In his first two collegiate seasons, the big lefty threw 156.1 total innings with a 142-to-61 strikeout-to-walk ratio – or an average of 8.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
But his dominance as a junior clearly outweighs any (slight) shortcomings his previous two years. Peterson misses a metric-ton of bats; his control has been pinpoint; and he’s surrendered just four dingers in his last 167.2 innings.
Peterson’s arguably the top collegiate lefty available in the draft class. He has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation caliber pitcher, one who has the build to chew up plenty of innings and mow down the minor leagues in quick fashion.
Ceiling: 4.5- to 5.0-win player
Floor: 2.0-win player
Grade: First Round