DJ Peterson Drafted 12th Overall by Seattle Mariners
June 6, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - University of New Mexico junior third baseman DJ Peterson was drafted with the 12th overall pick in the first round by of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Seattle Mariners Thursday. He is the highest draft pick in the history of the program.
"It was incredible," Peterson said in an interview with the MLB Network shortly after hearing his name called. "I've been waiting for this all year. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type thing."
UNM head coach Ray Birmingham was thrilled for his All-American.
"This is a big deal," he said, "DJ can hit for average and he can hit for power and there aren't many guys that can do that."
He is the third first-round draft pick in school history and the first since 1985. Kevin Andersh was selected 15th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates that year. Jim Kremmel was selected in the first round of the secondary January draft in 1971.
"He's not the first first-round draft pick to come out of the University of New Mexico," Birmingham said, "but he's the first in a long time. But just because you get drafted in the first round doesn't mean you're going to be in the big leagues, but DJ is the kind of kid who knows he still has a lot of work ahead of him. It's a good start. And for us it's a big deal for him to go from a 33rd-round draft pick to the first round."
In addition to being the highest draft pick in UNM history, Peterson is also the highest player Birmingham has ever had drafted. Former Lobo Cole White, who was a sixth-round selection in 2009, was the previous highest.
In 2010 Peterson was drafted by the Mariners out of high school in the 33rd round, but he turned down a six-figure signing bonus to play for the Lobos.
"I think my maturity and plate discipline (led the Mariners to draft me again)," he said. "It allowed me to grow up as a man a little bit. I got to get out, be on my own, live by myself a little bit ... so I think all those factors were what I needed to work on, and I did so the Mariners saw the improvement and took me at 12."
The Mariners certainly liked what they saw as they kept close tabs on his Lobo career.
“DJ is one of the top college position players in the draft with tremendous athletic ability,” said Seattle's Director of Amateur Scouting, Tom McNamara. “We look forward to having him in our organization and working his way towards being part of our Major League roster in the future.”
Peterson was named Co-Mountain West Player of the Year and a first team All-American for a second straight season after hitting .408 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. He finishes his career at UNM tied for first in career doubles (78), third in total bases (492), tied for fourth in RBI (198), and fourth in both home runs (41) and slugging percentage (.691).