Grooming hitters within the farm system has been quite a challenge for the Seattle Mariners in recent years, and so the selection of third baseman D.J. Peterson with the 12th overall pick in Thursday's draft comes with a bit of restrained excitement.
The Mariners like Peterson's production at the University of New Mexico, but there have been plenty of other top hitting prospects in the system -- most notably second baseman Dustin Ackley -- who haven't panned out. In Peterson and second-round pick Austin Wilson, an outfielder from Stanford, Seattle added two more hitting prospects to complement a farm system already rich with pitching potential.
Peterson was considered one of the best pure hitters in college baseball and he has the frame and natural swing to develop into the power hitter for which the Mariners have been searching.
Wilson also has power potential in his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame.
"We just added two bats, two physical hitters," Mariners director of scouting Tom McNamara said Thursday night. "It's a good day for the Seattle Mariners."
It's no secret that the Mariners were looking to add offense to their system, and the organization wouldn't mind if either or both players make a quick rise up the ranks.
Seattle needs an immediate infusion of offense, due in large part to the disappointing career arcs of young players such as Ackley, Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and -- lately -- Michael Saunders. The Mariners' best hitters this season have mainly been veteran additions Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and Jason Bay -- all of whom are scheduled to become free agents after the season.
The Mariners liked Peterson so much that they drafted him twice -- first, as a high school prospect in the 30th round of the 2010 draft. Peterson didn't sign, and he wound up at New Mexico, where he became a two-time Mountain West Conference player of the year and won the MWC's triple crown with a .408 average, 18 home runs and 72 RBI in 55 games this season.
McNamara said the organization likes Peterson as a third baseman, even though one of the Mariners' few home-grown lineup players to have any kind of offensive success -- 25-year-old Kyle Seager -- plays that position.
Wilson had some elbow problems during his final year at Stanford, but McNamara said he checked out medically.