Peters Is Prized Hoosier Prep

Small lefty flashes big stuff

INDIANAPOLIS—On May 22, Dillon Peters checked off the first item on his to do list. That's the date Peters, one of the top lefthanders in the prep class of 2011, graduated from Cathedral High in Indianapolis.

Next, he'd like to lead Cathedral to a second consecutive berth in the Indiana 4-A state championship game. This time, however, he aims to come away with a state title.

Then he'll head to the Cincinnati area to play for the Midland Redskins, a top amateur team and the defending Connie Mack 18U champions.

And at some point, he'll probably have to choose between the University of Texas and a professional baseball career.

The Pitching Gene

Peters, who lives in suburban Fishers, Ind., is a third-generation pitcher. His dad, Mark, was a college hurler at Arizona and Indiana, and James Peters, Dillon's grandfather, pitched at the semi-pro level. Dillon credits his father for his success.

"He's mentored me from the beginning," he said. "We're always breaking down situations—my games and other people's games—just to try and make myself better."

Ever since taking up baseball as a 5-year-old, Peters claims he could hit. "I was always a player known for my bat," he said, "and then my arm kind of came into the game." He was 11 or 12 at the time. "That was when my arm got a lot stronger."

Through his first three high school seasons, Peters compiled a 29-2 record. He averaged better than a strikeout per inning as a junior, allowing less than one earned run per game.

Last season he pitched back-to-back no-hitters and led Cathedral to the state title game at Victory Field in Indianapolis, where he lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in extra innings to Fort Wayne's Carroll High.

"It was really disappointing," Peters said. "We had the team to win the whole thing."

Rich Andriole, Peters' coach, said the 2010 title game was "as good a game, and as good as a performance, as I've been a part of."

During his 15 years at Cathedral, Andriole has coached Jake Fox and Tommy Hunter, both current major league players.

"Dillon is right on par with those guys," he said, "from a talent standpoint and emotional standpoint."

Andriole believes Dillon will "go as far as he wants to go," provided he stays healthy and maintains his strong work ethic. "His career here has been almost second to none. He's broken most—if not all—the school records on the mound. He's been a three-hole hitter for us a couple of years. He's been a catalyst and a leader. His talent is phenomenal."    

The Saturday before Easter, Peters' talent was on display at Victory Field again when he started against Lawrence Central in the nightcap of a high school doubleheader. Aiding his own cause with a double, a triple and three runs batted in, he pitched six innings of a 7-3 Cathedral triumph.

Mixing a slider and changeup in with a fastball clocked as high as 96 mph, he doled out six hits and struck out 13 batters.

"I wanted to establish myself with the fastball," Peters said, "but I knew that wasn't going to get it done. We (Peters and his catcher, sophomore Austin Sparks) wanted to make sure we were working the hitters, keeping them off balance the entire game, because they're a strong-hitting team."

On May 6, Peters notched a dozen strikeouts in a 3-1 win over St. Xavier of Louisville, Ky. Six days later he was back at Victory Field for the City Tournament title game against Bishop Chatard. Peters struck out 14, but Bishop Chatard bunched together three of their four hits in the sixth inning to pull off a 2-1 upset.

"We didn't hit the cover off the ball," Bishop Chatard coach Mike Harmon told media, "but we got some timely hits."

"It was just one of those days," said Peters, who rebounded against Brebeuf Jesuit on May 17, fanning 10 batters in a 4-1 win.

Letting Talent Speak

Nowadays, scouts tend to fall in love with pitchers who resemble NBA power forwards. But Peters—generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds—projects as a third- or fourth-round pick. He earns solid reviews for his control, command and poise. Peters revealed nothing when asked if he'd forsake a college scholarship for a professional career.

"There is a chance," he said. "I guess that's a difficult question. I don't know. We'll see."

As a sophomore, Peters decided on Texas. Describing his recruiting visit as "a really cool experience," Peters said he was impressed by the physical beauty of the Austin campus. Equally impressive to Peters is the way the school embraces sports—especially baseball.

"Playing for (Longhorns coach) Augie Garrido is an honor," he said. "Obviously, his track record shows that he's going to get players to Omaha (for the College World Series), and they're going to win championships. I want to be part of that."

If he does wind up at Texas, Peters plans on majoring in business. "Some kind of sports management," he said. "I'm hoping to start my own company."

He envisions a future partnership with Conrad Gregor, one of Vanderbilt University's leading hitters this season. Gregor, the Commodores' designated hitter, graduated last year from Carmel (Ind.) High School.

"He's my best friend," said Dillon. "We've always talked about starting some kind of sports company and training facility."

Two of Peters' admirers are his biggest rivals. Righthanders Christian Montgomery and Jared Ruxer pitch for Lawrence Central, a sectional foe located a little over two miles from Cathedral on 56th Street on the Indianapolis Eastside.

Montgomery has known Peters since they were in elementary school. "Dillon Peters is an excellent player, excellent pitcher—good character," said Montgomery, who has signed with Chipola (Fla.) JC and is also likely to be drafted next month.

"He's a good guy. Great offspeed. Good hitter. He's an all-round good player."

Ruxer is a Louisville recruit. He and Peters will be teammates this summer with the Midland Redskins. He describes Peters as "a great player" with a "great arm" who has a major league future.

"He's a big competitor," Ruxer added. "He works as hard as anybody. He really likes to get after it, and he works really hard."

Cathedral entered post-season play on May 27 with a 22-2 record and the No. 2 ranking in 4-A—right behind Fort Wayne Carroll, their opponent in last year's state championship game.

In the sectional opener against North Central, Peters started in center field. He took the mound in the seventh inning, closing out a 5-0 victory by striking out the side. Cathedral advanced to regional play after winning a section championship Monday afternoon behind another strong start from peters.

Peters believes Cathedral has a solid shot at returning to Victory Field for the state championship contest on June 18. "I think we're going to be right back there this year," he said.

And a state title this time around?

"That would be incredible—for this program, for this team, and the guys that have been playing with me the past four years," Peters said. "That's been our No. 1 goal from when we were freshman 'til now."