MINNEAPOLIS — While the Mariners continue their immediate search for a right-handed hitter for a second-half playoff push, that might not be a problem in the next few years.
On Sunday at Target Field, two of Seattle’s top righty hitting prospects — Class AA Jackson infielder D.J. Peterson and Class A High Desert outfielder Gabriel Guerrero — showcased their talents in the Sirius XM Futures Game.
Neither played a prominent role in the United States’ 3-2 win. Peterson went 1 for 2 with a sizzling line-drive double off the left-field wall. Guerrero went 0 for 2. His hard line drive to left was caught in the fifth inning.
Peterson, who has played the bulk of his professional career at third base, started at first for the United States team, while Guerrero got the start as designated hitter.
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“I feel confident at either position,” Peterson said. “Wherever they want to play me is where I’m good to play. If they want to slide me over to first, I will play first. I do feel defensively I’m showing the organization that I’m a much better third baseman than people expected. I’m just going continue to work hard at third and if they want to move me over to first I will work hard there.”
Peterson, 22, hit .326 with 18 home runs and 73 runs batted in with High Desert to earn a June 24 call-up. The numbers are even more impressive considering he hit just .269 with a .724 OPS in April.
“I think I tried to do a little too much the first month,” Peterson said. “Everyone hears about the Cal League and High Desert and how much the ball flies there,” Peterson said. “I think I tried to do too much. That short left-field wall was yelling at me every game.”
It’s continued to click for him at Jackson, where he’s hitting .290 with four doubles, three homers and seven RBI in 15 games with the Generals. It seems certain he will be at big league spring training next year.
“The organization has a plan for me,” he said. “I’m not trying to think past their plan. I’m just going to do what they ask. If it’s this year, next year, the year after, they know what they are doing and they know what they want to do for me.”
At just 20 years old, Guerrero isn’t as advanced as Peterson, but the potential is there. He’s hitting .300 with 18 doubles, nine homers and 60 RBI with a .773 OPS in 87 games.
Guerrero turned plenty of heads Sunday during batting practice, spraying line drives all over the field. But it’s his striking resemblance to his uncle, former All-Star outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, that had people talking.
Guerrero wears his pants high on his waist, has freakishly long arms and goes without batters gloves just like his uncle. Beyond appearance, he also has a free-swinging approach and ultra-strong throwing arm like Vlad.
“It’s unreal how much he looks like him,” said Dodgers minor-leaguer Corey Seager, the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager. “He back picks people at first base, he’s got a cannon, he’s pretty much got the same swing, he’s a good player. If it doesn’t bounce, he’s swinging, and he hits everything, so it doesn’t matter.”
In every interview on Sunday, Guerrero was asked about his uncle. He answered the questions with a big smile.
“Every time they ask me,” he said. “It’s almost every day. It’s OK. I’m proud of it.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373