Get To Know: 1B Brock Peterson
Image courtesy of Seth StohsBrock Peterson was drafted out of high school by the Twins 49th round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Rather than go to college, Peterson signed with the Twins and set off on his career.
“I think a lot of people get confused and think I was the 49th overall pick. They don’t realize it was the 49th round.”
Once he signed, that round didn’t matter to him, and the Twins gave him a shot. “I tried to never let that hold me back. The Twins always did a good job of when I was over here of giving, of treating everybody the same and giving opportunities. I think some people it hangs around on them, but I think I’ve played and established myself long enough that it’s kind of a non-factor now, I hope.”
13 years later, he’s still playing this game.
The Washington native began his career with the Elizabethton Twins in 2003. In 2004, he moved up to Quad Cities in the Midwest League. He spent 2005 and 2006 in Ft. Myers with the Miracle. 2007 and 2008 were spent with Double-A New Britain though he ended the 2008 season with Rochester. He played 2009 and 2010 with the Red Wings.
As a player in the Twins organization, Peterson never put up earth-shattering numbers, but he was always a consistent contributor for his team. He was very solid all-around, defensively and with the bat.
He said of his offense, “I take pride in trying to be a complete hitter. I try to hit for average. My goal every year is to hit .300 with 20. That’s what I think I should honestly be able to do every year.”
Following the 2010 season, Peterson became a free agent again and the Twins did not bring him back. In fact, he actually spent two seasons playing independent baseball for Bridgeport in the Atlantic league.
However, late in the 2012 season, the St. Louis Cardinals signed him and sent him to Triple-A Memphis where he played the final 21 games.
As a 29-year-old during the 2013 season, Peterson hit .296/.364/.531 (.895) with 30 doubles and 25 RBI.
In mid-July, Matt Holliday went on the disabled list and to the surprise of many, including Peterson, he received his first big league promotion. On July 20, in the bottom of the 5th inning, Peterson came on to pinch hit for Lance Lynn. He grounded out to shortstop off of Edinson Volquez, but it drove in a run to give the Cardinals a lead.
A day later, he was in the Cardinals lineup, playing left field, a position he hadn’t played more than a dozen times in his career. He acknowledged later that he only had to field ground balls out there in that debut.
Four days later, Peterson pinch hit for Matt Adams and recorded his first big league hit, a single off of Jake Diekman. His other hit came against JJ Hoover of the Cincinnati Reds.
Peterson was up with the big league club for three weeks, sent down, and then he was promoted for the month of September. He had a front row seat for the 2013 NL Central champion Cardinals.
His MLB time with the Cardinals was short-lived, but very memorable. He had just two hits in 26 plate appearances for the team, but he got the opportunity and that’s all he’s ever wanted.
“I had just accepted that I was just a minor league guy. I was just trying to have fun playing the game and hopefully they would let me keep playing. When I got the call up, I couldn’t believe it. Really. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. I was just out there playing and having fun. I think that was maybe the key to the success.”
Following the 2013 season, he was removed from the Cardinals’ roster and became a free agent. The Washington Nationals signed him in December. He was let go in June, but the Dodgers quickly signed him. Both of these minor league stints were in AAA. Overall, he hit .301/.378/.480 (.858) with 26 doubles and 15 home runs. He again became a free agent following the season.
This past offseason, Peterson had several offers, but it didn’t take long for him to realize where he wanted to sign. When Chris Colabello was removed from the 40-man roster and claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays, the Twins became a viable organization for Peterson.
Peterson acknowledged, “It really was (an easy decision). Once my agent said the Twins might have some interest, I gave Brad (Steil) a call and talked to him. Within the first minute of the conversation, I knew this is where I was going to come back to.”
He continued, “(This organization) is very familiar to me, even though everything’s changed and nothing looks the same. A lot of the same coaches are here. A lot of the guys I played with are coaching now which actually is kind of a weird situation because they’re on the other side of the line now. It was a pretty easy decision really once I had the conversation with Brad. He’s always been straight-forward with me and I feel like I trust him and trust the organization. Come out here and try to help the organization whether it’s helping young guys or hopefully getting a chance to go up to the big leagues and helping them win some games.”
(Peterson was a teammate of Cedar Rapids manager Jake Mauer and their hitting coach Tommy Watkins. He also was a teammate of new GCL hitting coach Brian Dinkelman.)
Steil is very happy to have Peterson back in the fold as well, for several reasons.
“We’re very happy to have him back in the organization. He was a good fit for us, because we were looking to add some depth at 1B and some power to the middle of the lineup in Rochester. On top of that, he’s a high character guy, good in the clubhouse, and obviously we know him very well from his first seven years in the organization. ”
For some, the grind of spring training, especially on the minor league side, can be difficult. However, Peterson is enjoying each moment. He relayed the following exchange he had with a younger Twins minor leaguer.
“I was talking to a kid the other day. I said, ‘Man, this is fun!’
He said, ‘Fun!?’
I said, “How many years do you got?’
He goes, ‘Three.’
‘Well, talk to me in about six more, and you’ll start having fun.’
The moral of that story for Peterson is this, “I think you just realize that you’re very privileged to play the game. I’m very lucky, after 13 years, to still get to be running around out here with all the kids, telling stories and just having a good time with them, trying to compete. I just feel very privileged to get to be out here having a good time.”
Peterson is smart and understands the game itself doesn’t change a lot, but that he needs to continually change and improve. “I’m still learning. It’s fun to learn in this game, and every year, I feel like I’m learning new stuff that’s helping me progress ever further. I’m just hoping to keep playing, keep learning and have a good time.”
Steil and the Twins front office and coaches encourage the minor leaguers to set goals and to strive for success. Peterson said that he has set several goals for himself in 2015. “Absolutely. The goal every year is, I just want to play as well as I think I can. Whatever happens after that, I’d love to be back in the big leagues. That’s why I play. That’s always the carrot hanging in front of your face is the big leagues. I’d love to get back there and help the team any way I can, but I just want to come out here, play, feel like I’ve improved and play to my potential.”
Brock Peterson overcame a lot of tough odds. He was drafted in the 49th round out of high school. He worked his way up the Twins farm system, and spent over two years at the Triple-A level where he was successful. After the Twins let him go, he went to the independent leagues and continued to work on his craft. Eventually, the St. Louis Cardinals organization gave him a shot. He was able to achieve the ultimate goal of anyone who has ever put on a glove and played catch, he got to play in the big leagues. He contributed to a National League championship team, and he has the ring to prove it.
Now he is back with the organization that gave him his first opportunity almost 14 years ago, the Minnesota Twins. He didn’t get the big league invitation to spring training, but he can be found on the minor league side, usually with a smile on his face as he continues that dream. He hopes to get back to the big leagues with the Twins, but if he doesn’t, he’s going to be a good mentor for the younger players.
That said, what a story it would be if he does get one more shot and one more promotion, this time with the Minnesota Twins!