Image credit: Liam Peterson (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.) last spring boasted one of the most impressive rotations in the country. It featured a fourth-round draft pick in Landen Maroudis, current Arkansas lefthander Hunter Dietz and Liam Peterson. The youngest of the three, Peterson had an excellent senior year to the tune of a 1.78 ERA with 73 strikeouts across 39.1 innings.
Between his performance on the mound, a jump in both velocity and stuff, and sheer projection, there was significant top-three round chatter surrounding Peterson. The opportunity was there for Peterson to sign, but he instead decided to honor his commitment to Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators.
Listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Peterson has an imposing mound presence. He has a lanky, high-waisted build and pitches from a three-quarters slot. Peterson primarily throws a fastball and a curveball and fires his breaking ball from a slightly lower slot. He has a relatively short arm stroke and tons of arm speed. Peterson’s heater this fall has been his best pitch. It sits in the 95-98 MPH range and averages 95.7 MPH. It jumps out of his hand and features carrying life through the zone, consistently getting over the barrel of opposing hitters. Currently, it is an above-average pitch with a chance to become a true plus offering.
To supplement his fastball, Peterson has a tight-spinning, high-70s curveball. This fall it has performed well against both right and lefthanded hitters. It has plenty of teeth, depth and two-plane break. It profiles as a likely out pitch and one that will generate its fair share of swings and misses. While Peterson has a changeup in his arsenal, he has thrown it sparingly this fall. Continuing to develop a quality third pitch will go a long way for Peterson and help his chances of earning a weekend role.
Peterson is young for his class and will be 18 years old for the entirety of the 2024 regular season. As he matures physically and grows into his frame, Peterson’s body control on the mound should improve, which will help his command and strike-throwing ability.
In looking at Peterson’s potential role this spring, it is unclear whether he will be a rotation piece or pitch out of the bullpen. Two-way superstar Jac Caglianone (7-4, 4.34 ERA) is the only returning weekend starter from 2023, while sophomore lefthander Cade Fisher (6-0, 3.10 ERA) figures to make the jump from the bullpen to the rotation. With a competition for the third weekend starter spot, Peterson could pitch his way into the role.
Regardless of whether or not he cracks the rotation, Peterson this season will be a key piece for Coach O’Sullivan and will log meaningful innings. He is not draft eligible again until 2026, but Peterson has a chance to be one of the premier college arms in the class with first-round upside.