SEATTLE — If he had it his way, DJ Peterson would treat the minor-league ladder like Mike Zunino did. After making short work of Seattle’s farm system, Zunino has been the team’s most recent first-round major-league baseball draft pick to climb his way up the ranks and don the Mariner uniform.
Peterson is also aware that Zunino spent a month with the Everett AquaSox, Seattle’s Class A short season affiliate, before being promoted to AA Jackson. It’s not uncommon for a first-round pick to toy with a club’s Single A affiliate — for just a few days in some cases — before moving to the Class AA club.
Yet it’s even less common for a first-round pick to find himself inside a major-league clubhouse after a year with the organization.
“He’s pretty impressive to get moved up in a year,” said Peterson, who was selected 12th by Seattle earlier this month. “My plan is to be up in a year but you never know, it could be two, it could be three so just going to kind of let player development do what they do best.”
Three years after the Mariners initially drafted him in the 33rd round of the 2010 draft, Peterson dressed for Everett’s home opener Monday at Memorial Stadium against the Tri-City Dust Devils.
Coach Rob Mummau doesn’t plan on using the University of New Mexico product for a few games, a period of time that Peterson said he’ll use “to get my feet wet.”
And who better to do that with than a team nicknamed the AquaSox.
“I knew it was kind of going to be a process ... take batting practice, take ground balls, get the signs down, that type of stuff so I had a good idea that was my plan for the first day,” Peterson said.
After Seattle drafted Peterson in 2010, the Gilbert, Ariz., native opted to pursue a college degree and signed with New Mexico, where he spent three years as one of the nation’s elite power hitters. As a junior, Peterson boasted NCAA top-10 marks in batting average (.408), home runs (18) and runs batted in (72).
He was well aware of the potential to be a top 20 pick, possibly even top 10. Still, Peterson describes a second go-round with the Mariners as fate.
“It’s something that we thought was supposed to happen, I couldn’t be any more excited to be a Seattle Mariner,” he said.
While Peterson is a natural third baseman, the versatile slugger spent last summer playing on the opposite corner for the U.S. Collegiate National Team.
Mummau has yet to decide where he’ll utilize the three-time collegiate All-American.
“That’s something I’m going to talk about with our guys, I would say primarily a third baseman, (but I) wouldn’t be surprised if he plays over at first base, too,” he said.
During Monday’s game though, Peterson was simply an observer, watching on as Everett earned a 5-4 victory over Tri-City.
If Peterson follows the Zunino route, it’ll be well worth the effort. The Mariner catcher has collected three hits — one of those a home run — in three starts with Seattle.