Dustin Peterson impressed soon after coming over in the Justin Upton trade, and was hitting .314/.392/.448 on May 11. Those good feelings did not last long, as he fell victim to the Mudcats bus crash the next day. This certainly was a disappointment, as Peterson had shown signs of an offensive breakout after putting up a sub-.700 OPS in each of his first two seasons, and since his return from action on June 2 he has hit .204/.265/.312
Level: Class High A - Carolina Mudcats
Position: Left Field
Height/Weight: 6'2" 180lbs
Born: 9/10/1994 Phoenix, Arizona
Drafted: 2nd Round in 2013 by San Diego
Acquired: Trade with San Diego in 2014
Bats: Right Throws: Right
71 G; .263/.330/.382; 6 HR; 9 2B; 2 3B; 34 R; 35 RBI; 5 SB; 27 BB; 54 K
Dustin has a projectable 6'2" 180lbs frame, and is a very young player-2.6 years below league average age. He was drafted soon After his older brother,Mariners farmhand DJ Peterson, going 1 round later. After entering the minor leagues as a third baseman the Braves moved him to left field due to defensive problems at the hot corner, a position he has worked to adjust to this season.
Scouts have raved about his hit tool since his high school days at Gilbert HS in Arizona, but it has yet to translate to much success in the minor leagues. He was poised to break out this year, but the Mudcats' bus crash set him back. He has a short, smooth swing from the right side, and has quick hands that generate above average bat speed. His swing can get long at times, and when it does many of his fly balls and line drives turn into pop ups and choppers to the left side of the infield. When he is hitting well he takes advantage of mistake pitches, driving them into the gaps or over the wall with above average raw power. He has made strides in recognizing off speed pitches, and in my looks did a good job of staying on curveballs. The biggest knock on his bat has been his lack of discipline, but he has made improvements and has gotten more patient early in at bats. Once he falls behind he tends to chase out of the zone, as evidenced by his slash line of .172/.172/.208 when he is behind in the count. When he is making contact the ball jumps off of his bat, and he can go to all fields with authority and projects to hit for more power as he matures. His above average bat speed allows him to drive off speed pitches, and he can turn on inside fastballs and shoot them into the power alley. He does a good job of taking advantage of pitcher's mistakes, frequently ambushing fastballs left over the plate. When he is on his game he is a formidable presence in the middle of a lineup.
Hit Tool: 20/50
Raw Power: 50/55
I managed to get some looks at him recently, and in those games he actually showed better than advertised speed-somewhere around average. He made good jumps on a couple of stolen bases and showed workable range in left field. He was able to show average base running skills and shouldn't be a detriment when he gets on base. He will likely slow down as he matures and adds bulk, and it remains to be seen how much foot speed he will lose. At maturity he will be a below average runner, but hopefully he can retain enough speed to handle the outfield
Speed Tool: 50/45
The main problem with Peterson is his lack of a true defensive position. In 132 games at 3rd base in the Padres system he made 52 errors, and when the Braves acquired him they converted him to the outfield. He has enough speed and range to handle the outfield, though he may lose some of that as he matures. His reads and jumps are raw, and he is uncertain of his own angles in the outfield. He has shown better abilities in left field than 3rd base and if he can improve should be good enough to allow the Braves to put his bat in the lineup. He has below average arm strength, but enough to play left field. He has a fairly accurate arm and has thrown out 8 runners on the bases this year.
Dustin has made noticeable effort to improve, and had hustled hard in the games I've watched. Reports have raved about his mental toughness, and that toughness will be put to the test this year. He is a major boom or bust prospect that the Braves were eager to add to the system this offseason. He has shown tools to be above average as a hitter both for average and power, but he will need to improve his plate discipline and defense to ever allow those abilities to shine at the major league level. He will likely be a slow mover and may have to repeat High A next year if he can't turn things around. An aggressive estimate would place his arrival in Atlanta for late 2017, though it will more than likely be 2018 before he gets a shot in the major leagues. Peterson is still a very young player so it isn't necessary to rush him, and patience could pay huge dividends down the road.
Overall Grade: 25/50