Brock Peterson is at the stage in his career where he will do just about anything to help his team. So at the age of 30 on Sunday night, the Albuquerque Isotopes first baseman took the mound for the first time in a long time.
“I think I pitched one inning when I was 16 years old,” Peterson said. “I think the last time I was a real pitcher I was 14 or 15 years old and I wouldn’t even call myself a real pitcher back then.”
The Isotopes were trailing the visiting Las Vegas 51s 11-1 when Peterson took the mound. He faced New York Mets prospect Kevin Plawecki and then veteran Omar Quintanilla.
Peterson got two quick groundouts despite most of his pitches averaging between 71 and 73 mph. Manager Damon Berryhill referred to one unusual-looking pitch as “the fuzzball.”
“I don’t throw particularly hard and I wasn’t trying to throw hard to begin with,” Peterson said. “I was just trying to throw strikes. I was just trying to throw a little two-seamer in there, make it move a little bit. I was trying to throw a little cutter-slider, make it do something different. I was just trying to throw strikes and trying not to blow myself out.”
Another Mets prospect, Cesar Puello took Peterson deep for his second solo home run of the game. Peterson was then able to get Anthony Seratelli to pop up to end the inning.
“I’d gotten (Puello) to 2-2 and I was actually was trying to make a good pitch and see if I could get him to swing and miss,” Peterson said. “That’s what happens sometimes. I left it up in the zone and he did what he was supposed to do with a hanging slider-cutter thing.”
Peterson has played six games with Albuquerque since the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations. The Nationals had Peterson at their Triple-A team in Syracuse where his numbers (.250/.332/.367, 6 HR, 31 RBI) were down from last season.
In 2013, Peterson was one of the Pacific Coast League's top hitters with Memphis (Cardinals). He hit .296/.364/.531 with league-leading 25 home runs en route to a September call-up with St. Louis.
“I’m really enjoying (being back in the PCL),” Peterson said. “There’s just something about this part of the country and this league, I just really like it. I’m confident here in what I can do at the plate. We’re just trying to build that confidence back up and get back to where I was last year and try to get in a groove.”
A native of Washington state, Peterson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2002. He reached Triple-A Rochester in their system in 2008 but was never able to advance to the Majors.
Released after the 2010 season, Peterson decided to sign with the independent Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League for 2011. He would play for Bridgeport again in 2012 after briefly contemplating hanging them up.
That proved fortuitous as the Cardinals signed him late in 2012 and sent him to Memphis. He played well enough there to earn his 2013 contract that got him to the Majors for the first time.
“I think independent ball helped my career more than anything I’ve done in baseball, honestly,” Peterson said. “I felt like it made me enjoy the game more. Not take everything so seriously, just enjoy it. I learned that it’s not going to last forever.”
For now, Peterson will man first base for the Isotopes (41-50) and try to help them turn their season around. And if he is ever needed again to pitch, he will be ready.
“That was a lot of fun for me,” Peterson said. “It gives the team in a game when you’re down 10 a little something different, a little something to enjoy that day. It’s always kind of entertaining to watch a position player out there. I was more than happy to be the guy on the mound.”