There will be a lot less minor league baseball in 2021 now that contraction has taken place and only 120 full-season teams will be playing, but as the venerable Jim Goulart recently elaborated on for Brewerfan.net, the Milwaukee Brewers have a lot of work to do when it comes to finding enough position players to fill out their four MiLB rosters next summer. It is perhaps appropriate, then, that Jim was the first among #BrewersTwitter members to note the impending signing of minor league free agent Dustin Peterson, a deal that was confirmed by the club on Wednesday.
Player moves:— Brewers Player Dev (@BrewersPD) December 16, 2020
OF/1B Dustin Peterson has been signed to a minor league contract.
RHP Wilber Diaz has been released.
Peterson, who just turned 26 in September, began his career as a second-round pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2013 MLB Draft. He has bounced around a bit in the years since, getting traded to the Braves in 2014 as part of the Justin Upton deal, then getting claimed off waivers by the Tigers in 2018. Peterson became a free agent after the 2019 season and briefly signed with the Los Angeles Angels, getting released once it became clear there would be no minor league baseball played in 2020.
Peterson was consistently rated as a top prospect throughout the early years of his career, ranking among the top-30 prospects for the Padres and later Braves in each year from 2014-2018 according to Baseball America. The results have not exactly followed, though, as Peterson is a .262/.316/.382 hitter with 53 home runs across 687 minor league games. Peterson has also had a couple stints at the big league level, appearing in two games for the Braves in 2018 and 17 for the Tigers in 2019. All together, he’s hit .217/.265/.304 in 49 MLB plate appearances. After beginning his career as third baseman, Peterson shifted to the corner outfield spots (primarily left) but has spent the bulk of his time playing first base in the past two years.
At this point the Brewers just need warm bodies in the minor leagues, but perhaps there is some hope that the post-hype Peterson is turning a corner as he enters what should be the prime-age years of his professional career. He was solid in Triple-A in 2019 with Toledo, batting .286/.317/.439 with 11 home runs in 79 games at the highest level of the minors. After getting cut loose in 2020, he spent the summer playing in the independent pop-up Constellation Energy League and batted .309/.400/.500 with 3 home runs and 9 doubles in 28 games and 110 plate appearances. He’s currently playing ball for Monterrey of the Mexican Pacific Winter League and is so far hitting .316/.373/.602 across 150 plate appearances and is leading the league with 11 home runs.
Peterson’s contract did not include an invitation to big league Spring Training, so he’ll have work to do if he hopes to reach the majors with Milwaukee in 2021.