PCL notes: Peterson's happy homecoming

New Mexico product relishes Tacoma's road series in Albuquerque

Seattle's first-round pick in 2013, D.J. Peterson has spent parts of the last three seasons with Triple-A Tacoma. (Red Williamson/Tacoma Rainiers)

By Chris Jackson / Special to MiLB.com | May 2, 2017 10:00 AM

The third time was the charm for D.J. Peterson.

The Mariners' No. 10 prospect had spent parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Tacoma Rainiers, only to find out he had already missed their scheduled trips to Albuquerque.

This season, Peterson finally got to return to Isotopes Park, where he played for the University of New Mexico Lobos for two-and-a-half seasons before they moved across the street to Lobo Field.

"It brings back memories, that's for sure," Peterson said. "It was good to see my [former] teammates, the coaching staff. It was three good years. We made it to [the NCAA] regionals each year. I was very blessed to play for a guy like coach [Ray] Birmingham."

Peterson parlayed those three years of success with the Lobos into becoming the Mariners' first-round pick in 2013.

Since then, however, it has been a series of ups and downs for the corner infielder/outfielder. He was hit by a pitch in the face in 2013, suffering a broken jaw. Peterson rebounded and hit 31 home runs in 2014 with Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson.

Peterson struggled in a repeat run at Jackson in 2015, batting .223/.290/.346 before appearing in four games with the Rainiers, finishing on the disabled list.

Things picked back up in 2016 as Peterson hit .264/.327/.455 with 19 home runs between Jackson and Tacoma. This year, he is off to somewhat slow start, batting .243/.309/.405 with three home runs in his first 21 games through Sunday.

"I've got things to work on, trying to be more consistent, cut down on the strikeouts, mix in more walks," Peterson said. "I'm just trying to get some consistent plate appearances."

Peterson has tended to strike out a fair amount in the past, but this season he has only whiffed in 16 of 74 at-bats.

"The average isn't there but it's been a lot of hard outs," Peterson said. "I'm not really too concerned about the outcome right now. It's a long season. It will come."

Staying healthy is going to be a key for Peterson if he hopes to take that next step to Seattle.

"Injuries are something you can't control," he said. "I'm just trying to control what I can control on and off the field to keep my body healthy to be able to stay on the field."

Peterson broke into the Minors as a third baseman before shifting over to first base. This year he is playing both while adding two more positions, left and right field.

"They've kind of got me doing it all," Peterson said. "Whatever I can do to help the Mariners win at the big league level, that's what I'll do. If they want me to play second base, I'll do it."

Returning to Albuquerque, even for four games, was a bonus for Peterson. He got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Lobos game before taking on the Isotopes that same day.

"This is one of the biggest highlights of my life, just playing here," Peterson said.

In brief

House rules: Peterson is not the only former Lobo in the PCL this season as right-handed reliever Austin House is off to a flying start for the Isotopes. In eight appearances, House has gone 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks while striking out nine across 10 2/3 innings.

Candelario in the wind: Not that the Chicago Cubs need another big bat, but Iowa third baseman Jeimer Candelario is hitting his way into the picture. The Cubs' No. 4 prospect is batting .306/.432/.625 with three homers and 18 RBIs to start the season.

Express money: Round Rock first baseman Ronald Guzman was one of the big-money signees out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. That investment by the Rangers in their No. 4 prospect is paying off as he is hitting .348/.414/.494 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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