- Full name Jace Ryan Peterson
- Born 05/09/1990 in Lake Charles, LA
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Mcneese State
- Debut 04/25/2014
Drafted in the C-A round (58th overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2011 (signed for $624,600).
View Draft ReportPeterson is one of the top two-sport athletes in the draft. A 6-foot-1, 200 pounder, he's a cornerback for McNeese State's football team and had an interception during the 2009 season. He has been more of a factor as the Cowboys' shortstop, leading the Southland Conference in runs in 2010 as an all-conference choice and ranking among the nation's leaders again in 2011. Peterson's profile and athleticism should push him into the first three rounds, as he's a physical, speedy lefthanded hitter with present strength, well above-average speed and a polished approach for a two-sport athlete. He has rough edges to polish in his fielding actions and swing, yet he has more walks than strikeouts as a collegian and has a flat, short, low-maintenance swing. He has the arm strength for shortstop and room to improve there if he can learn to get more extension out front, which would give his throws more carry. Scouts are more comfortable slotting him at second base, and some see him as a utility type. He makes plenty of contact, sacrificing power and limiting his impact potential a bit offensively.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Until abruptly breaking the pattern in 2014, the Padres had moved Peterson methodically through the system, giving the former McNeese State shortstop/defensive back time to adjust to each new level. When San Diego needed a replacement for injured third baseman Chase Headley in April 2014, however, it called up Peterson from Double-A San Antonio, even though he had played exclusively shortstop in pro ball. While Peterson failed to hit during four stints with the Padres in 2014, going 6-for-53 (.113), he turned in a fine season at Triple-A El Paso, showing his trademark strike-zone discipline, barrel control and straightaway hitting approach. His simple, quick, lefthanded stroke and on-base ability will allow his hit tool to play near average, though his power will play only to the gaps. He sees the ball well against lefthanders and should not require a platoon partner. Peterson played plenty of second and third base at Triple-A and in the Arizona Fall League, and his average range, speed and arm strength would play better at those positions than at shortstop. Peterson has no carrying tool, but neither does he have a glaring weakness, and he profiles as a starting second baseman in the majors, possibly as soon as 2015.
At McNeese State, Peterson starred on the diamond and as a cornerback on the football team, but he made the right decision in pursuing baseball. He spent all of 2013 as shortstop at high Class A Lake Elsinore, ranking among the California League leaders in average (.303), stolen bases (42) and triples (13). Peterson has no single plus tool, but he adeptly combines athleticism, skill and instincts, so his average tools play. He shows average range and arm strength at shortstop to go with throwing accuracy and first-step quickness. That quickness, combined with his ability to read pitchers, makes up for his average run times, and he boasts a career 80 percent stolen-base success rate. Peterson shows no give in left-on-left matchups and sprays line drives where the ball is pitched. Though he has below-average power, he can turn on the inside pitch when he's geared to do so. If he reaches his ceiling, Peterson will be a table-setting starter at shortstop.
Peterson starred as a cornerback on the McNeese State football team when he wasn't putting his plus athleticism to use on the diamond. He hit .335 as a junior and set a school record with 78 career stolen bases, indicating that his future was in baseball. Despite his two-sport background, Peterson's baseball skills are refined. No one tool elevates him above the field, though he has no glaring weakness either. A lefthanded hitter, Peterson makes steady line-drive contact (particularly versus righties) and has led his two minor league teams in walks, brandishing a career walk-to-whiff ratio of nearly 1-to-1. He won't hit many homers, but that's not his game. Though he's only a tick above-average runner by the stopwatch, Peterson's basestealing savvy and ability to get good jumps enabled him to swipe 51 bases (in 64 tries) to finish second in the Midwest League last year. His range and first-step quickness are average, but he positions himself well and rarely botches routine plays. He has fringy arm strength now, but the Padres believe he will improve his accuracy and carry by keeping his elbow up and by continuing his long-toss program. San Diego has used Rule 5 pick Everth Cabrera, utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. and veteran Jason Bartlett as regular shortstops since Khalil Greene left town after the 2008 season, but Peterson could one day add stability to the position.
Peterson starred in four sports in high school before paring down to baseball and football at McNeese State and, finally, to just baseball after turning pro with the Padres. San Diego selected him 58th overall last June and signed him for $624,600. A defensive back in football, Peterson never had concentrated fulltime on baseball, but that wasn't necessarily evident from his performance during his pro debut. Batting leadoff and playing shortstop every day for Eugene, he led the Northwest League with 50 walks while finishing second with 39 steals and third with 48 runs. Observers were smitten with his athleticism, intensity and leadership qualities. Peterson manages the strike zone well and uses a short, low-maintenance lefty swing, though his stroke lacks the loft to hit for more than fringy power. He has slightly above-average speed, and his strong baserunning instincts make him a stolen-base threat. Peterson still is learning the finer points of playing shortstop, such as timing hops and positioning his feet, but no one doubts he'll work hard to smooth his rough edges to become perhaps a solid defender. He has average arm strength, though he sacrifices carry on throws because he cuts off his arm path. The Padres have him working on a long-toss program to work out the stiffness, a common trait among ex-football players. Peterson could hit about .270 with a dozen homers and 30 steals at his peak, more than enough production to play shortstop regularly if his glove is up to the task.
Minor League Top Prospects
Patrick Kivlehan wasn?t the only former college football player to shine in the Cal League this year. Peterson, a cornerback at McNeese State, showed impressive polish considering his multi-sport background. He demonstrated an understanding of how pitchers were attacking him, and he has a discerning eye at the plate. Early in the season, Peterson seemed more focused on just making contact, but he eventually started getting the barrel out front and looking to drive the ball. He generally sprays line drives to all fields, maintaining an up-the-middle approach with a short, balanced swing. Peterson hangs in well against lefthanders, batting .337 against them. He finished fourth in the league in steals thanks more to his ability to read pitchers rather than pure speed, which rates about average, and he?s an adept bunter as well. Peterson?s not a flashy defender but he has a chance to stick at shortstop. His range and arm strength are adequate for the position, and he gets good carry on his throws. Managers around the league liked his leadership qualities as well.
For a guy who juggled baseball and football until the Padres made him a supplemental first-round pick in 2011, Peterson has extraordinary instincts. He may not have a true plus tool, but the former McNeese State cornerback extracts the most out of his ability and contributes in every facet of the game. Peterson can bat first or second in a lineup because he makes consistent contact to all fields and draws plenty of walks. Despite just average speed, he's a threat to steal (second in the MWL with 51 swipes) thanks to his savvy and jumps. His only offensive drawback is his modest gap power. At shortstop, Peterson's first step, range and arm are just average. Yet he finds a way to make plays and scouts lean toward him being able to play regularly at shortstop rather than having to shift to second base or become a utilityman. "His tools are average but his instincts are great," a second NL scout said. "He makes plays look easy. He's not a plus runner on the stopwatch but he steals bases. He does a lot well. He's not sexy but he's good."
A four-sport standout in high school, Peterson is a quality athlete who doubled as a defensive back and shortstop at McNeese State. He grows on managers and scouts by bringing his football mentality to the diamond every day, competing to his fullest and soaking up coaching. Peterson has a compact, muscular frame and good bat speed. He has a short stroke and a patient approach, as evidenced by his league-high 50 walks. Add in his solid speed and terrific instincts on the bases, and one scout projected that he could hit .270 with 12-15 homers and 25-30 steals annually in the big leagues. At shortstop, Peterson has better range up the middle than to the hole and is still learning the finer points of defense such as reading hops and how to position his feet. His athleticism, above-average arm and work ethic give him a chance to stay at shortstop.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the San Diego Padres in 2014
- Rated Best Athlete in the San Diego Padres in 2014
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the San Diego Padres in 2014
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the San Diego Padres in 2014
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Midwest League in 2012
- Rated Best Athlete in the San Diego Padres in 2012