By Laura Amato
It’s almost become tradition.
The Mets once again went for experience early in this year’s MLB draft, selecting Oregon pitcher David Peterson with the 20th overall selection Monday night.
It’s the third straight year the Mets went with a college player in the opening round and the second straight year the squad has selected a pitcher with its first pick. Peterson is primed for a pro debut – and it’s likely his path will lead him to the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“David is a Golden Spikes finals, pitched at Oregon, played on Team USA last year and had just a tremendous year this year,” said Tommy Tanous, Mets vice president of international and amateur scouting. “He’s one of those pitchers that you feel like every time you see him pitch, he kept getting better.”
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Peterson was dominant on the mound in his junior year, posting an 11–4 record with a 2.51 ERA and 140 strikeouts in just over 100 innings pitched. He walked just 15 batters all spring and set a school record for strikeouts in a game, twice, first with 17 and then again with 20.
“As a pitcher, I believe my greatest strength is being the competitor I am,” Peterson said. “Whether my stuff is good or bad that day, I’m giving the team 110 percent of what I have. That’s always my motto. When I’m at my best, I believe I can throw any of my pitches for strikes.”
Peterson, who watched the draft with family and friends in Oregon, worked extensively with a pitching coach this year to fine-tune his game and his 20-strikeout performance earned him national attention.
He was quick to point out, however, that he’s not interested in setting records. Peterson wants to play in the big leagues and he’s going to do whatever it takes to make it to The Show.
“My dream in life has always been to be a professional baseball player and play in the Major Leagues, and being drafted in the first round by the Mets is exciting for me,” Peterson said. “I was very overwhelmed with joy.”
This isn’t the first time the Mets have ventured west for draft picks. Michael Conforto – who dominated during his time in Brooklyn – played at Oregon State before being selected by the Mets in 2014 and Tanous admitted the process for finding Peterson was essentially the same.
“They had similar paths – both played on Team USA, both played in the northwest, and I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Tanous said. “David kept impressing us and impressing us. That’s I think the only process we have – to see these players play as much as possible. With David there are some similarities to the process as far as Michael Conforto.”
The Mets also selected high-school prospect Mark Vientos from Florida in the second round. The organization expects both players to sign sooner rather than later. If tradition holds, again, both Peterson and Vientos will suit up for the Cyclones this summer, taking their first pro steps in Brooklyn.
“Overall tonight, we felt very fortunate to acquire two players we had on our first-round board,” Tanous said. “I think it was one of those cases where the draft breaks just right for you and it seemed to do that tonight.”