The Sleeping Giant: DJ Peters

I was scouting some of the players in our pipeline and I came across a player named DJ Peters. The front office is waiting for him to jump into the scene. Wow, this guy is a beast. He is 6’6 and weighs 225 lbs. He is only 24 years old from Glendora, CA. The Dodgers drafted him in 2016 in the 4th round out of Western Nevada College. He is currently an outfielder for the Dodgers AAA team. He was last optioned to play with the Oklahoma City AAA team. This guy looks like he could be a power forward on any basketball team. Think Zion WIlliams, and Charles Barkley. With that size he could easily get a huge contract on any NFL team as a tight end because even though he is that big he is very athletic. The one thing that pops out at you about his stats when you analyze his numbers are the home runs. All this guy does is put up home run numbers. Each year that he has played Peters has demonstrated a monstrous ability for hitting home runs. The home run ball is paid very well in the league. So this young man is going to get paid sometime in the near future. Don’t get me wrong, he still has to put in the work. It won’t be easy. But every step along the way he has demonstrated the power by hitting his share of home runs in every level of every division. Check the numbers: in Rookie Ball, in 66 games, he hit 13 HR. In single A in 2017, he hit 27 HR. In 2018, in AA he hit 29 HR. IN 2019 he started out in AA and then was moved up to AAA. That year he hit 23 HR. The Dodgers optioned him to Oklahoma City in 2020 and there were no stats on file for him for 2020. The Dodgers do have him on payroll for 2021 as Peters enters his 5th year. In December of last year the Dodgers did protect him from the Rule 5 draft and we will have to wait and see if they protect him this year going into the Rule 5 draft next month. This kid reminds me of a stronger Scott Van Slyke with the potential of being as good if not better than Jayson Werth. Think Jack Clark.

There are a few things that have to happen for things to work out for this kid. He will not play for the Dodgers as long as they have such a log jam in the outfield. Right now the OF is manned by Betts, Bellinger, and AJ Pollock. Belli will get a nice contract in a few years and as long as he keeps playing like he has been playing he ain’t going anywhere. Mookie is here for the next decade. That leaves AJ Pollock. AJ has another 3 years left on his contract. As long as he hits like he hit in 2020 the Dodgers are set. Of course if the Dodgers try to shave any money off their payroll to make room for bigger moves things can change. It is possible. Maybe I am just a contrarian but they say sell high, buy low in the stock market and AJ is on a high right now and ripe for a trade to a team who might have something beneficial for us in return. I mean, the Dodgers are playing with house money. They have a guy who hit 16 home runs in 60 games, a solid left fielder/center fielder and they have some positions to fill and some decisions to make. I won’t speculate here what they will or will not do but Peters provides a serious amount of firepower to supplant those 16 home runs that AJ Pollock would leave behind if traded. Keep in mind that we also have Chris Taylor, and it is possible that they still resign Kike Hernandez. This makes life a little more difficult for Peters. Being 6’6 he could also play first base but I seriously do not see Muncy going anywhere either. An injury could pave the way for a DJ Peters debut in 2021. That sucks for whoever gets injured but that would open a path for Peters. That is the way it sometimes goes in baseball. It is yet to be seen what will happen with the DH in 2021 but if the DH stays in the NL that could also be a chance for Peters to spend some time in the big leagues. Time will tell.

A big negative as to why DJ Peters has not made the jump despite all his home runs is the fact that he has struck out an excessive amount of times in each of his first 4 minor league seasons. This makes his leap far less probable. He comes off as an all or nothing type of player and it could be that the Dodgers are waiting for him to learn how to make more contact and put the ball in play as opposed to striking out so much. In 2016 while in Rookie ball, in 66 games he struck out 66 times but he did bat .351, with 13 home runs. That is actually really good. However, when he moved up one level to A in 2017, he struck out 209 times in 142 games.  The following year in AA, in 2018 he struck out 192 times. Then in 2019 he split time in AA-AAA and in 125 games he struck out 168 times. It doesn’t get easier in the big leagues. It actually gets tougher to hit the ball the higher you go. The high strike out ratio is going to be a big reason why they keep AJ Pollock for at least another year. AJ Pollock in comparison has only reached 100 strikeouts once in his 9-year career. However, we are left thinking, just what if Peters can fix something in his mechanics to increase his swing and contact ratio. As big as he is, if he can just slash 20% of his strikeout ratio, that would translate to and added 10-15% higher power numbers. I believe the Dodgers have to give this kid a longer look and hope that he can find his happy zone. Maybe learn to lay off of pitches out of the strike zone. I am not sure where his weak spot is but with that many strikeouts it seems that he has many holes in his swing and in his ability to recognize the strike zone. He must be chasing bad pitches repeatedly and he needs to fix that.

He needs to remain more quiet with his front foot and his front foot has got to land, plant and  allow the rotation to commence. This will allow his front side to remain steady, and prevent his head from moving all over the place. I saw him hit a bomb when he was able to successfully plant that front foot and minimize the rotation of the foot and then I saw another swing when the front foot just kept shifting as if not planted. I noticed that when he swings, his front foot continues to move all throughout his swing so it looks like his whole body continuously rotates creating too much head movement. This prevents his front foot from getting planted. He would benefit from taking a look at how Pujols swings. Quiet front foot, toe tap, and explodes. Of course that is a future hall of famer we are talking about but who else better to learn from than from the best. Get that front foot down, plant and get your 40-50 home runs kid. I do think he deserves a shot at some playing time sooner rather than later but he needs to do his part in decreasing the strikeouts and delivering more contact. He is a Sleeping Giant. You know what they say about “Sleeping Giants”. If you wake them up, you better watch out. This here is “A Sleeping Giant”. Keep in mind that Giancarlo Stanton struck out 211 times in 2018 and Aaron Judge struck out 208 times in 2017. That same season Stanton hit 38 home runs, and in 2017 Aaron led the league with 52 home runs. Is this the type of player that we have down in triple AAA or is he not there yet? I am going to assume that this is what we are looking at and it is not as well known by many but I assure you that the rest of the league is hoping the Dodgers put him up for that Rule 5 draft as that power is undeniable. The Dodgers will most likely protect him before December’s rule 5 draft and allow him another 2 seasons to develop with some possible MLB exposure in the next two seasons. Be ready for it. He should be fun to watch.

Published by Pete Reyes

Dodger Fan since Fernandomania. I am a baseball aficionado and a former baseball coach. I am father of 3 and I am very proud that our Dodgers finally won the World Series. Follow me for some fun Dodger News and Updates.

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