For D.J. Peters, the sky is the limit.
The Los Angeles Dodgers number eleven prospect has quickly risen through the farm system over the last three years. Watching him in 2016 with the Ogden Raptors, I predicted that he would be a big-leaguer when was still relatively unknown. It was bound to happen one day.
Peters, a native of Glendora, California, was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 draft by the Dodgers out of Western Nevada Community College, where he hit .426 with 15 home runs in his final year.
DJ was dubbed “Hercules” by Raptors play-by-play announcer A.P. Harreld during the 2016 season and he certainly lived up to the nickname. The 6 foot 4 outfielder started his pro career on a torrid note, batting .391 through his first 29 games. When the Raptors were in Missoula, Montana, Peters reached base eleven times in a row from July 21st through the 22nd.
A moment that sticks out in the mind occurred on August 16, 2016. The Raptors and Great Falls Voyagers played deep into the night, tied at 1. In the 11th inning, Joel Booker hit a single up the middle that looked like it would give Great Falls the lead. Peters, playing a medium-deep center field, unleashed an absolute cannon shot of a throw to cut down Casey Schroeder at the plate as he tried to score from second base. The throw electrified the crowd and the dugout, and it remains one of the top five throws I have seen in person.
D.J. also launched a massive game-winning home run that September as Ogden was in the heat of a Pioneer League pennant race. It traveled over 460 feet out of Ogden’s Lindquist Field and was a pivotal blast as the Raptors ended up clinching a playoff spot a few days later. Peters finished the 2016 regular season with a batting average of .351 and a league-leading 1.052 OPS.
The Raptors’ 2016 run ended short of the ultimate goal of a championship, but not for Peters. After a bus ride from Orem back to Ogden following a heartbreaking elimination loss to the Owlz, D.J. was told to pack his bags for Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was to meet the Low-A Great Lakes Loons who were in the midst of a playoff series with the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Peters was inserted right into the Loons starting lineup as they knocked off West Michigan to advance to the championship series. Against Clinton in the finals, he hit a three-run home run for one of the key contributions as Great Lakes won the series 3–1 to claim their first ever Midwest League championship. A ring was destined for D.J. in 2016 after all.
D.J. was able to avoid starting 2017 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League as he was assigned to Rancho Cucamonga of the California League, a well-known hitter’s paradise. He did not miss a beat blasting 27 home runs on his way to winning the league MVP. He was the first member of the Quakes to be awarded Cal League MVP since Corey Seager in 2014.
Peters knows how to win so he went out and won another league title in 2018, this time with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. He led the league with 29 long balls, five clear of his second-place finishing teammate Jacob Scavuzzo.
A hot topic in baseball over the last few seasons has been top sluggers sacrificing their batting average in order to hit the ball out of the park on a more consistent basis. This proved true for Peters who ended 2018 with a batting average of .236 and 192 strikeouts. D.J. is the ultimate competitor so he would tell you the high rate of strikeouts (39%) is unacceptable, but he was a very important bat in the middle of a potent Drillers lineup.
The ceiling is very high for Peters entering 2019 as he was added to the Dodgers 40-man roster in the offseason. He has made an impact early in spring training blasting two home runs in a win over the Angels on Feb. 24. The next day he threw out a Cubs runner at the plate from center field in the first inning. Speculation has Peters beginning the 2019 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. If he succeeds in the PCL, he could make his major league debut sometime this year.