By Gary Hill
A closer look at DJ Peterson and Austin Wilson, whom the Mariners drafted 12th and 49th overall, respectively, in the MLB First-Year Player Draft Thursday:
University of New Mexico
6-1, 205, Junior, 3B
Hometown: Gilbert, Ariz.
2013 stats: .408/.520/.807, 18 home runs, 72 RBIs, 46 walks, 35 strikeouts, 5 stolen bases, 25 doubles, 4 triples.
Peterson led the Mountain West Conference in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, RBIs, doubles, home runs and total bases. He was second in walks and hits. His batting average was fourth best in the nation and his home-run total was tied for third.
He hit .419 as a sophomore in 2012 with 17 home runs and 78 RBIs. He was a .317 hitter with six home runs and 48 RBIs during his freshman campaign.
Peterson has compiled some of the best numbers in college baseball this season. There are a couple of questions to consider when taking his numbers into account, especially regarding competition and elevation.
First of all, the Mountain West Conference is a solid baseball conference. It is not among the elite, but it belongs in the next tier of conferences. Here is a look at multiple-bid conferences for the NCAA Tournament this season:
• Atlantic Coast, eight: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech.
• Pac-12, four: Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA.
• Sun Belt, four: Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama, Troy.
• Big 12, three: Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State.
• Big West, three: Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara.
• Colonial, three: Towson, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary.
• Atlantic Sun, two: East Tennessee State, Mercer.
• Big East, two: Connecticut, Louisville.
• Big South, two: Coastal Carolina, Liberty.
• Big Ten, two: Illinois, Indiana.
• Mountain West, two: New Mexico, San Diego State.
• Southland, two: Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State.
• West Coast, two: San Diego, San Francisco.
There are only six programs that participate in baseball in the Mountain West. The Tony Gwynn-led San Diego State Aztecs boast a strong program and Fresno State captured a National Championship in 2008. The non-conference schedule for the Lobos included Oklahoma State, UC Riverside, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The competition Peterson faced this season was not an issue.
Albuquerque, N.M. sits roughly 4,900 feet above sea level. Hitting in elevation can certainly help power numbers. However, it should be noted that Peterson socked more homers on the road (10) than at home (eight) this season. Here is his away homer log: Oklahoma, Nebraska, UNLV, UNLV, Air Force, Fresno State, Fresno State, Fresno State, Nevada (in Fresno, Calif.) and San Diego State.
On March 9, 2013, New Mexico faced UC Riverside in a double-header. Peterson went wild in Game 1 by going 5 for 5, swatting two homers and driving in five runs. UC Riverside decided for the most part not to pitch to Peterson in Game 2 and walked him five times. They mistakenly pitched to him once. He homered. A 6-for-6 with three home runs, six RBIs and five-walk day. Not bad. He also belted two homers against UNLV in another game and drove in eight.
6-5, 246, OF
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
2013 stats: .288/.387/.475, 5 home runs, 26 RBIs, 13 walks, 18 strikeouts, 5 stolen bases, 7 doubles, 0 triples.
Wilson is a career .295 hitter with 20 homers. He missed the first few weeks of the 2013 season with an elbow injury which suppressed his overall numbers. He entered 2013 as a preseason All-American, according to Perfect Game, Baseball America and Louisville Slugger.
He has been on the radar of scouts for a long time. He was a 12th-round selection out of high school in 2010 by the St. Louis Cardinals. He would have been a higher selection, but there were hefty signing concerns. His father attended MIT while his mother went to Stanford. They both received an MBA from Harvard. He was named the No. 2 prospect in the prestigious Cape Cod League by Perfect Game and No. 4 by Baseball America.
He contains a great deal of natural power, but he was only able to play 31 games this year, which made it impossible for him to improve on his 10-homer total from a season ago. Despite his size, he stole home two years ago against Washington.
He is toolsy with massive upside, but questions seem to routinely circle around hitters from Stanford. Jason Castro, Cord Phelps, Michael Taylor, John Mayberry, Danny Putnam, Donny Lucy, Chris Carter and Joe Borchard are a few of the hitters who have not lived up to elevated expectations.
However, Carlos Quentin and Jed Lowrie are couple of examples of Stanford hitters who have found plenty of success at the MLB level. The reputation of Stanford hitters may have played to the Mariners’ advantage to help land the possible first-round talent.