Mets Ease David Peterson Into Full-Season Ball

The Mets are taking a conservative approach with 2017 first-round pick David Peterson.

With the former Oregon lefthander limited to just 3.2 innings last summer at short-season Brooklyn because of a toe injury, team officials decided it was best to assign Peterson to low Class A Columbia to start 2018.

What they didn’t expect was for the 22-year-old Peterson’s report date to be mid-April or later, after he was slowed in spring training by what general manager Sandy Alderson called a “tweaked” knee.

As a junior at Oregon, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound southpaw set a school record by striking out 140 batters in 100.1 innings. The Mets used the 20th overall pick to select Peterson, marking the second straight draft they selected a college pitcher in the first round. In fact, the Mets took two college pitchers in the first round in 2016: Boston College righthander Justin Dunn and Connecticut lefthander Anthony Kay.

“Peterson hardly pitched at all last year, so we wanted him to get his feet wet and wanted him to start at a full-season team,” Alderson said. “You can always move up, but it’s tough to move back.”

Alderson noted that Kay, who missed last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is also beginning the season at Columbia. 

Dunn spent last season at high Class A St. Lucie, but the fact he had pitched 30 innings a year earlier at Brooklyn played into that decision, according to Alderson, whereas Peterson barely pitched.

Team officials are anxious to see what they might have in Peterson, whose 273 career strikeouts were the second-highest total in Oregon history.

“We haven’t seen enough of him, but he is a strike-thrower,” assistant GM John Ricco said. “I would like to see him get out there and start competing first before we judge how fast he might move and what his potential is.”

A talent evaluator who watched Peterson in spring training was impressed with the pitcher’s composure while facing major league hitters in an intrasquad scrimmage. 

“He is a guy who attacks the strike zone, and he’s not scared,” the evaluator said. “His stuff is not overpowering, but it plays because he attacks and trusts it.”

>> In a rare trade between New York rivals, the Mets sent Triple-A second baseman L.J. Mazzilli to the Yankees for 22-year-old outfielder Kendall Coleman. The 27-year-old Mazzilli joins his father Lee in having played in both the Mets and Yankees organizations.

>> Double-A Binghamton outfielder Tim Tebow homered on the first pitch he saw in the Eastern League. Last year he homered in his first game for Columbia.

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