Dillon Peters Rounds Into Form
MIAMI—Lefthander Dillon Peters is going to spend his winter in Norman, Okla., which is a bizarre choice for a guy who played at Texas, the University of Oklahoma’s biggest rival.
But there’s a reason why Peters, a 10th-round pick in 2014, will find himself in the Sooner State. It’s Skip Johnson, who is in his first year as Oklahoma’s pitching coach after putting in 10 seasons at Texas.
"If the best pitching coach in the nation is in Norman,” Peters said, "that’s where I’ll be.” The 24-year-old is coming off a breakthrough year. He went a combined 14-6, 2.38 in 24 starts at high Class A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, striking out 7.3 and walking 1.4 per nine innings.
Peters had Tommy John surgery after signing and returned for 45 innings in 2015. The Indianapolis native might have commanded a seven-figure bonus if not for his elbow.
He went 7-3, 2.13 as a Texas junior in 2014, making his final start at the Big 12 Conference tournament, when he pitched five scoreless innings against Oklahoma State. Texas made the College World Series that year, but Peters couldn’t pitch.
Peters appeared fully recovered in 2016. His velocity increased from 91-93 mph to 93-96. While he stands in at 5-foot-9, he has an effective pitch mix that includes two- and four-seam fastballs, a curve and a changeup.
Jupiter pitching coach Jeremy Powell said Peters has supreme confidence in his curveball, throwing that pitch to get strikes early in the count as well as punchouts.
The Marlins want Peters to find better fastball command, so they might assign him to Double-A Jacksonville in 2017.
"He has a good feel for all three pitches,” Powell said of Peters. "We want to see him throw his changeup more, especially to lefty hitters.
"Because he’s short, he doesn’t have great downward angle, and some of his pitches can flatten out. But this kid is a worker. His pitches are effective on both sides of the plate.”
• Lefthander Jarlin Garcia pitched only sporadically after May this season, but he returned to work in relief at the Arizona Fall League.