A month ago, D.J. Peterson was a broke college student at the University of New Mexico.
But after the Seattle Mariners made Peterson their first-round pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the 6-foot-1 third baseman can afford just about anything after signing for a $2.5 million signing bonus on June 12.
“It still hasn’t hit me. When my first check hits, that’s when it will probably hit me,” Peterson said. “I’ll still be the same kid from Gilbert, Arizona.”
The Mariners are hoping he’ll be the same explosive player he was with the Lobos, where he won the Mountain West Conference triple crown with a .408 batting average, 18 home runs and 72 RBIs.
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So far, he’s shown his production potential with the Everett AquaSox, who are visiting the Tri-City Dust Devils at Gesa Stadium for a three-game series ending Thursday.
In six games, Peterson has hit two home runs and driven in eight. He’s hitting just .200 but has a slugging percentage of .550, as three of his four hits have been for extra bases.
Still, he was hoping for a little more from himself out of the gate.
“It’s been a little frustrating, but I’m still getting used to wood bats and just trying to get comfortable,” Peterson said. “Plus, there’s the difference in facing 92-95 mph every night as opposed to 85-89 in college.”
The Mariners have to feel like they finally got their man after drafting Peterson, a two-time all-state player, out of Gilbert High School in the 33rd round of the 2010 draft.
He’s hoping to follow the recent path of another Mariners first-rounder, Mike Zunino, who recently made his major league debut after being drafted just a year ago.
If there’s a timetable for Peterson, he doesn’t know about it.
“You’ll have to talk to player development,” he said. “I felt good about this organization when they drafted me out of high school. Right now, I’m just trying to get at bats.”
Blank leading NWL in saves: Tri-City’s Trent Blank is pacing NWL closers with four saves, converting each of his four chances. Blank, a 30th-round draft pick out of Baylor University in 2012, went 1-0 with a 3.34 ERA in 16 games as a middle reliever last season. But his sidearm delivery has caused hitters fits this season. In four appearances this year, he hasn’t allowed a hit in 3 2⁄3 innings.
Modesto no-hitter: Former Dust Devils starter Nelson Gonzalez was one of three Modesto Nuts’ pitchers to combine on a 2-0 no-hit win over the San Jose Giants in a California League game Monday night. Gonzalez, who went 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA with Tri-City in 2011, threw a perfect eighth inning, sandwiched by seven hitless innings by Daniel Winkler and a perfect ninth from Scott Oberg.
NWL players of the week: Salem-Keizer infielder Sam Eberle and Boise pitcher Paul Blackburn were named the NWL players of the week for the period of June 14-23. Eberle hit .375 (12-for-32) with seven doubles, five RBIs and eight runs in 10 games for the Volcanoes, while Blackburn struck out 12 batters in 10 scoreless innings for the Hawks, allowing just four hits and one walk.