Dodgers outfield prospect DJ Peters was named MVP of the California League on Tuesday. He joins Corey Seager (2014) and Carlos Santana (2008 with Inland Empire) as the most recent Dodger prospects to win the league MVP award.
Peters has a .284/.382/.521 triple slash with 24 home runs, 28 doubles, five triples and a well-above average 143 wRC+ in the hitter-friendly Cal League. Not bad for a kid in his first full season of professional ball. Peters played for Ogden last season and hit .351/.437/.615 in an even hitter-friendlier Pioneer League, so his 2017 campaign looks a bit more impressive by comparison (because Peters is not a .350+ hitter).
I saw Peters play in Stockton to open the season, and I wasn’t overly impressed, but I wasn’t about to write him off. He looked overmatched, as he struck out five times in his first three games, had one hit (a blooper to right) and made some soft contact. He, obviously, wasn’t that kind of player, and it took just a few weeks for him to claim his first of three Cal League Player of the Week awards.
May was Peters’ only rough month that saw him hit .212/.310/.414 with an obscene 43.3 strikeout rate. From June 1 through last night, however, Peters owns a .304/.389/.557 slash line with 31.1 K%. He had 37 extra base hits (19 doubles, two triples, 16 homers) on his way to a league-leading 241 total bases.
Peters does have a lot of swing and miss in his game (more than Cody Bellinger did at the same point of their minor-league careers), but he also backs up the whiffs with obviously plus-power and the ability to draw walks (11.2 BB%). The strikeout rate will need to come down (or at least stay somewhat similar) as he moves up the MiLB ladder, but the tools, power and athletic ability are all present.
The Dodgers have struck gold in the last couple drafts in the fourth round. In 2015, they popped Willie Calhoun, who was the key piece in landing Yu Darvish almost a month ago (oh, and he’s a really good hitting prospect). In 2016, they drafted Peters, and he appears to be on the path of being another solid non-first-round pick for the Dodgers. So, we’re expecting big things from you James Marinan (2017 4th-rounder).
And, really, Peters made his name known back on a warm July evening in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner was making a rehab start for the San Jose Giants, and Peters got the best of him … twice.
Not only did he get the best of Bumgarner twice, it happened in the same inning. He should have been given the league MVP award right then and there.
I ranked Peters at No. 19 in my preseason Top 100 and No. 18 in my midseason Top 30 update. He’s going to be ranked significantly higher come next year’s Top 100, but not just because he won the Cal League MVP. There are concerns about his ability to hit advanced pitching, but there’s enough talent there to bet on, and the Dodgers like his athleticism. Despite the large frame (6’6, 225 pounds), he might be able to hang in center field for awhile.
With prospect graduations come players who step forward, and Peters has taken one of the bigger steps forward of any prospect in the organization. I’m excited to see what he does with Tulsa next year.