A rookie outfielder appears poised to crack Atlanta’s opening day roster, but it’s not top prospect Ronald Acuna. Dustin Peterson, who had a huge year for the Mississippi Braves in 2016, has had an outstanding spring for the Braves and is in the mix for playing time in left field. Peterson, 23, is batting .318 with two homers and six RBIs. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed hitter, acquired from San Diego in 2014, was a Southern League MVP candidate two years ago when he batted .282 with 12 homers, 88 RBIs and 38 doubles for an M-Braves team that played for the league title. Peterson played well in big league camp last year but suffered a broken hand that pretty much wrecked his 2017 season. “It’s a shame he got hurt because who knows what his story would be right now, the way he was swinging the bat last year,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Peterson batted .248 with one homer in 87 games at Triple-A Gwinnett, but indications are he’s got his power back this spring. P.S. Seven other M-Braves alums are currently projected by mlb.com to make the initial 25-man roster: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and A.J. Minter.
Of the four young players Atlanta got from San Diego in the Justin Upton trade in 2014, the least heralded was Dustin Peterson. Jace Peterson, Mallex Smith and Max Fried were the attention-grabbing names in the deal, but Dustin Peterson has begun to garner his share. Now playing left field for the Mississippi Braves, and playing in the shadow of top prospect Dansby Swanson, Peterson is leading the team in homers and RBIs with five and 25. He heads into tonight’s game at Trustmark Park in Pearl with six hits in his last 14 at-bats, boosting his average to .262. Peterson, listed at 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, appears to have legit right-handed power. Four of his homers have come at the TeePee, where right-handed hitters especially have trouble knocking the ball out. Peterson was a second-round pick by San Diego out of high school in Arizona in 2013. Originally a third baseman, he was shifted to the outfield by Atlanta. At high Class A Carolina in 2015, he hit .251 with eight homers and 62 RBIs, and he entered this season rated the Braves’ No. 21 prospect by mlb.com. Only 21, Peterson is holding his own in his first tour of Double-A ball. P.S. The M-Braves are 20-25 with a three-game win streak entering the five-game homestand against Jacksonville. Trailing first-place Biloxi by 6½ games in the Southern League South, the M-Braves have plenty of time to make up ground – the first half ends June 19 – but need to step it up at home, where they are 8-12.