Since being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth round in 2016, outfield prospect D.J. Peters has continuously turned heads due to his majestic power.
That was on display in Sunday’s Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, when the 23-year-old went 2-for-3 with two home runs, including one that left the stadium as it sailed over the fence and walkway in left field at Camelback Ranch.
While Peters has not yet played a game above Double-A, he is confident that he can contribute at the big league level, even if he is not focused on that right now. “I think for me, just have quality at-bats and control what I can control,” Peters said.
“Whenever my name is called or whenever they think I’m ready, I’ll be ready to go. I know that I’m ready to go, and I know that whenever my name is called, I will definitely run away with the opportunity.”
Compared to 2017 when he had a .886 on-base plus slugging percentage with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Peters had a bit of a down year in 2018 with the Tulsa Drillers. His OPS dropped to .793, although he did hit a career-high 29 home runs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Peters made some changes to his swing during the offseason, which have been noticeable so far this spring. “D.J. has really worked hard to shorten his swing. To see it pay dividends, I think is good for his confidence,” Roberts said.
“Just the way he plays the game is fun to watch. The refinement is, just understanding sequencing. Mechanically, our hitting guys did a great job. I wouldn’t say it’s a revamped swing, but it’s a much shorter swing. Where 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.”
After striking out 192 times in 559 plate appearances last season, trying to put the ball in play is a big focus for Peters. “Really just cutting down on the strikeouts,” he noted.
“I think it’s one of those things where I worked really hard throughout this offseason to cut those down. And then at the same time, keep my power numbers up. Kind of just shorten things up with two strikes.
“I know that I’m big and strong enough to hit the ball out of any part of the park, but when it comes down to it, you’re not going to have 500 home runs when you get 500 at-bats. Just have quality at-bats, put the ball in play when you need to, and whenever you get that pitch, don’t miss it.”
While the Dodgers currently have a surplus of outfielders, if Peters continues to turn heads this spring and at Triple-A Oklahoma City to begin the season, it is not out of the question to see him make his Major League debut at some point in 2019.