Strikeouts have never been as prevalent—or tolerated—as much as they are now.
But Dodgers prospect D.J. Peters focused this offseason on cutting down his share of those strikeouts.
“I think it’s known that I have a high strikeout rate and I want to get that down,” Peters said. “I know strikeouts are going to happen, especially for a guy like me with long levers and a guy that has to get the ball in the air and has to hit it out of the park from time to time. So I’m just trying to cut down on some of those strikeouts—whether it’s 30 or 40 or 50 less in a year—especially with two strikeouts.”
Peters, the Dodgers’ fourth-round selection out of Western Nevada JC, indeed has long levers to his swing—and eye-popping power. He has hit 56 home runs over the past two seasons— 27 in the high Class A California League in 2017 and a league-leading 29 in the Double-A Texas League in 2018. He also led the Texas League with 192 strikeouts and finished second in the Cal League with 189 the year before.
“I know that I’ve had three really good seasons here, power number-wise,” said Peters who has OPSed .884 as a professional. “The average has still been kind of up. The walks are still there. But I know there’s always that strikeout rate.
“I know it’s going to happen. I’m not saying I’m never going to strike out. That’s just not going to happen. For me as a competitor, I want to cut those down a little bit and give myself a better chance up there especially with two strikes.”
Peters spent his offseason working with hitting guru Craig Wallenbrock. When Wallenbrock protege Robert Van Scoyoc was hired as the Dodgers’ new hitting coach, Peters said it was “awesome” to renew a relationship that went back to Peters’ signing with the Dodgers.
Their collective focus has been on “condensing” the movement in Peters’ swing—less leg kick, more of a point “A to B type of mentality,” he said.
“DJ’s really worked hard to shorten his swing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The refinement is just understanding sequencing and mechanically. Our hitting coaches did a great job. I wouldn’t say it’s a revamped swing but it’s a much shorter swing. Velocity and fastballs in the zone beat him at times last year. This time, he’s giving himself a much better chance to cover that pitch.”