Aaron Judge showed how a power forward's body can translate to the diamond. With his size, strength and leverage, he obliterated the rookie home run record with 52 homers this season.No one is putting Dodgers outfield prospect DJ Peters in the same class as Judge. But he does have some
Aaron Judge showed how a power forward's body can translate to the diamond. With his size, strength and leverage, he obliterated the rookie home run record with 52 homers this season.
No one is putting Dodgers outfield prospect DJ Peters in the same class as Judge. But he does have some intriguing similarities to the Yankees superstar.
Like Judge, Peters has a big frame (6-foot-6, 225 pounds), huge raw right-handed power and a strong arm, and he also has left a trail of destruction in his wake. Last spring, he set school records at Western Nevada CC for batting (.419) and homers (16), prompting Los Angeles to draft him in the fourth round. In his pro debut, he topped the Rookie-level Pioneer League in runs (63), total bases (161) and OPS (1.052).
• Arizona Fall League roster & stats
In 2017, his first full pro season, Peters won California League MVP honors after hitting .276/.372/.514 with 27 homers in 132 games and topping the high Class A circuit in slugging and extra-base hits (61). The Dodgers' No. 17 prospect ended the season in the Double-A Texas League playoffs, serving in a reserve role as Tulsa lost in the finals.
Now Peters, 21, is trying to build on that progress with the Arizona Fall League's Glendale Desert Dogs. Though he never has played nine straight months of baseball without a break, he's enjoying what he calls the roller coaster of professional baseball.
"A hundred and forty games goes by pretty fast in the grand scheme of things, but I had a lot of fun," Peters said. "I ended the year up in Tulsa, which is a lot of fun as well. I just love every single minute of this, being able to play for the hometown team I grew up cheering for is an absolute blessing."
A product of Glendora (Calif.) High, located about 30 miles from Los Angeles, Peters could have signed with the Cubs as a 36th-rounder out of high school or the Rangers as a 36th-rounder after his freshman year at Western Nevada. Winding up with his local team has had some benefits. He spent his first offseason working out at Dodger Stadium with big league stars such as Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner.
As with Judge, Peters' extra-large frame adds length to his swing and results in a lot of strikeouts to go with all of his home runs. He finished second in the Cal League with 189 whiffs, fanning in 32 percent of his plate appearances, though he also ranked second with 64 walks. He understands that the key going forward will be to find a happy medium where he can be both aggressive and productive.
• Dodgers' Top 30 Prospects
"The strikeout rate was a little high but I feel like that kind of cancels out with the power numbers," Peters said. "Obviously, you don't want to strike out over 30 percent like I did this year every single year. For me, personally, I feel like it's learning, growing. I was young for the Cal League.
"For the Dodgers to send me there, believing in me, understanding that I might struggle but I'm going to have a lot of success as well because of the type of player that I am, how hard I work … It's not really a concern to me, just because I know I'm going to get better at it."
Dodgers hitters in the Fall League
Matt Beaty, 1B/3B (LAD No. 30) -- The Texas League MVP this season, Beaty batted .326/.378/.505 and led the circuit in hitting and doubles (31). A 12th-round pick from Belmont in 2015, he controls the strike zone well and has the versatility to play almost anywhere on the diamond.
Yusniel Diaz, OF (LAD No. 5) -- The Dodgers spent $31 million to sign Diaz in 2015 after he defected from Cuba, $15.5 million for a signing bonus and a matching amount as a penalty for exceeding its international bonus pool. A center fielder who could have solid or better tools across the board with the exception of his power, he hit .292/.354/.433 with 11 homers in 114 games between high Class A and Double-A.
Will Smith, C (LAD No. 8) -- The 31st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Smith is an athletic catcher with developing power, surprising speed and solid defensive skills. The Louisville product batted .231/.358/.446 with 11 homers in 73 games in high Class A, but an errant pitch broke his hand in his first Double-A game and ended his season in mid-July.
Dodgers pitchers in the Fall League
Isaac Anderson, RHP -- Anderson endured a rough year, going 0-9 with an 8.85 ERA in 18 games (13 starts), mostly in Double-A. His changeup is his best pitch, and the 40th-rounder in 2015 from Wichita State sets it up with a low-90s fastball.
Michael Boyle, LHP -- A 13th-rounder in 2015 out of Radford, Boyle features a three-pitch mix with his low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. He went 5-6 with a 4.75 ERA and a 37-17 K/BB ratio in 53 innings in high Class A.
Andrew Sopko, RHP -- Sopko signed as a seventh-rounder from Gonzaga in 2015 and pitches off a deceptive 88-94 mph fastball. He went 5-7 with a 4.13 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings in Double-A.
Shea Spitzbarth, RHP -- Spitzbarth has recorded a 2.58 ERA since turning pro as a nondrafted free agent out of Molloy (N.Y.) in 2015, including a 2.45 mark with 77 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings between high Class A and Double-A this year. He works primarily with a 92-94 mph fastball and a curveball.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.