Tacoma Rainiers

Rainiers’ DJ Peterson looking at Vogelbach acquisition as a positive

Peterson
Peterson

Tacoma Rainiers first baseman DJ Peterson is playing one of his best stretches of baseball in his professional career.

But it happens to coincide with the Mariners’ acquisition of first baseman Dan Vogelbach, with whom he’ll have to share playing time.

“You can look at it two ways, as either positive or negative,” Peterson said Thursday. “I’m going to look at it as positive. There’s a lot that I can get out of it with him coming over.”

Rainiers fans may remember Vogelbach as the guy whose homer off James Paxton hit the Cheney Stadium scoreboard on May 21.

“Vogelbach’s a good hitter,” Peterson said. “He’ll be a good part of this lineup. He could help the big league team, too. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

The Mariners acquired the slugging Vogelbach, who had a .318/.425/.548 slash for Triple-A Iowa this season, as a part of a four-player trade with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. He will join the Rainiers on Friday in Salt Lake.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto envisions no difficulty in a blend between Vogelbach and Peterson in Tacoma — or perhaps in the big leagues in the future.

“We think a lot of DJ,” Dipoto said. “He’s having a great year as well. The good thing for DJ is he’s also multiposition versatile. He’s also a right-handed hitter. The combination of players fits for us both present and long term.”

The plan is for Vogelbach, who bats left, and Peterson, the club’s first-round pick in 2013, to split time at first baseman and designated hitter. Peterson can shift to third base, his original position, if necessary.

Peterson, the 12th pick in the 2013 draft, is 18 games into his second Triple-A stint. He’s hitting .315 with five homers, 21 RBIs and a .589 slugging percentage.

“Back in the day when we drafted him, he was a pretty high draft pick,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said, “so the potential’s always been there. He’s finally putting it all together.”

Last season, Peterson struggled and hit .223, mostly at Double-A. He played four games in Triple-A before he was sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury.

Peterson’s June 29 call-up from Double-A Jackson cleared the way for him to see a lot of time at first base. After Tacoma’s then-first baseman, Efren Navarro, was released, Peterson started the next 19 games.

Triple-A feels better for the 24-year-old this time around.

“I feel like this promotion was earned,” Peterson said, “that I earned this one, and the guys on this team, it’s just a good set of guys, good locker room vibe. It’s fun to play with these guys.”

The Rainiers’ coaching staff sees the difference firsthand.

“DJ’s a different player than he was last year,” Listach said. “He’s playing his butt off. He’s really driving the ball, even to right field. He’s got to keep that approach, to be able to use right field because that’s all they’re going to give him.

“He’s grown up a lot in the last year.”

As Peterson’s hot streak continues, he says he feels like he has something to prove. Throw in the competition with Vogelbach, and Peterson is taking this opportunity to show his value to the Mariners’ front office.

“I’m going to continue to come in here, get my work in, get my at-bats and continue to play team baseball,” Peterson said. “It gives me a chance to ... work on defense, maybe do a little early work if I’m DHing more, or if we’re kind of splitting that role at first base.”

Staff writer Bob Dutton contributed to this report.

 

Andy Buhler: @a_buhla

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