David Peterson took some time to adjust to life in the Florida State League, but if Saturday's performance is any indication, he appears to have found his footing.
The Mets' No. 6 prospect gave up one hit, faced two batters over the minimum and struck out nine over six innings as Class A Advanced St. Lucie blanked Clearwater, 11-0, at Spectrum Field.
Gameday box score
Peterson (3-6) got off to a strong start this season, recording a 1.82 ERA in nine starts for Class A Columbia. He capped his time in the South Atlantic League on June 9 as he recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts over eight frames, his longest start to date in the Minors. But finding his rhtyhm with St. Lucie has taken time.
For much of the year, the left-hander has been searching for a consistent changeup to help backup his primary pitches. Against the Threshers, the Denver native threw the off-speed pitch more frequently as he got into a groove.
"Even while I had that success in Columbia, I didn't have my changeup quite the same," he said. "I've been trying hard to get that back and I decided to throw it more tonight for developmental purposes. I needed to throw it well in games rather than just in my bullpens, and it was the one thing that finally clicked.
"It's huge to have that and be able to throw hitters off. It comes out of your hand and they think it's a fastball, but it's 10 mph slower and that gets guys out in front and makes my other off-speed stuff better, too."
Peterson allowed a one-out single in the first as Phillies No. 6 prospect Mickey Moniak legged out a dribbler up the third base line off the end of his bat. He ended the inning by fanning Luke Williams before striking out the side in the second. Overall, the 2017 first-round pick set down 13 in a row after Moniak and amassed seven punchouts through 4 2/3 frames.
"[Moniak] put one in play and he's a fast kid and beat it out, but that hit didn't affect how I went about my business after," he said. "Anytime you get rolling like that, it's hard for an offense, unless they get really get something going, too."
After Raul Rivas reached on an error by first baseman Jeremy Vasquez, Peterson fanned Gabriel Lino swinging to end the fifth. The University of Oregon product got Kevin Markham and Phillies No. 11 prospect Arquimedes Gamboa to ground out in the sixth, then got the best of Moniak for his ninth strikeout on his 72nd and final pitch.
The Mets piled on four runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to give Peterson an 11-run cushion, providing even more confidence and fire to finish off his strong outing.
"It's fun to pitch in close games, but it's also tough to win when you don't get enough runs behind you," he said. "It was awesome to see what they did behind me. I was really happy those guys could find a groove and put up some production. It's a lot easier to pitch with a lead."
Seth Davis and Stephen Villines combined for five strikeouts over the final three frames for St. Lucie.
Quinn Brodey led the Mets offensively, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and collecting a career-high six RBIs. Michael Paez chipped in three singles, scored three times and drove in a run.