Mark Peterson Could be the Future for the Royals Bullpen
By David Hill
There are some things that, in the course of history, have become synonymous with each other. Babe Ruth and power. Rickey Henderson and stolen bases. Nolan Ryan and strikeouts. Chris Getz and grit. Even the Kansas City Royals have become synonymous with positives over the last few seasons, particularly with their stellar bullpen and defense.
The Royals may have found yet another young reliever to add to their bullpen in another couple of year. Mark Peterson had a tremendous 2014 season, saving 22 games while posting a 1.31 ERA and a 1.040 WHiP for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Moved up to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Peterson saved three more games and posted a 1.76 ERA, but had a 1.435 WHiP.
While Peterson has been successful throughout his minor league career, last season was a bit of an aberration. A pitcher who typically relies upon ground balls, posting ground ball rates north of 45% in his two previous minor league seasons, Peterson only had a 26.3% ground ball rate for the Blue Rocks last year. He did make up for that by posting an incredible 16.1% infield fly ball rate, almost twelve percentage points higher than his previous high.
Despite his two solid seasons in 2012 and 2013, Mark Peterson did not rank among the Royals top prospects. In fact, his overall success seemed to be ignored, as the Royals have bigger names coming up through their system. Perhaps this is due to Peterson being undrafted out of college, but he has certainly impressed in his time in the Royals system, even being named the Best Reliever in the Carolina League by Baseball America after his 2014 performance.
While Peterson is not a flamethrower like most of the Royals relievers, he can occasionally get his fastball into the mid 90’s. Instead, he has relied upon solid control, walking only 2.5 batters per nine innings during his minor league career. That control, along with his impressive ability to generate ground balls, could help Peterson continue to climb through the Royals system.
Chances are, Peterson will begin the 2015 season back in Northwest Arkansas. If he can continue to put together the impressive seasons that he has had during his first three years, Peterson may find himself in Omaha by the end of the year, possibly even being a September callup to the Royals.
He may have been an undrafted free agent, but Mark Peterson certainly appears to have a bright future with the Kansas City Royals.