Mason City native Jake Peter can play almost every position on a baseball field.
But no one has been able to find him a spot on a big-league roster.
That could change this season, as Peter’s been given a new opportunity after being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.
“I think there’s a little bit more opportunity for me here,” Peter said of his new home in the Dodgers’ system. “Being a versatile player, I think that bodes well for me in this organization because you look at pretty much every guy they have in the big leagues can play multiple positions.”
That’s been Peter’s calling card ever since the White Sox selected him the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Peter was a super utility man, logging time at every position but pitcher and catcher. He also showed plenty of pop with his bat, hitting a .282 with 86 doubles, 15 triples and 24 homers during his first four professional seasons.
But as good as Peter was with his bat and as versatile as he has been, defensively, he couldn’t rise above the Triple-A level with the White Sox. Peter hoped that would change this season. He was preparing for another season in the system when he got a surprising phone call over the winter months from Chris Getz, Chicago’s director of player development.
Peter, who was back home in Mason City, was told he had been traded to the Dodgers. He was one part of a three-team deal that also included the Kansas City Royals.
“When I got the call that I was traded, it kind of came out of nowhere,” Peter said. “So it caught me off guard. And it was a little overwhelming at first.”
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After talking to his parents and agent, Peter realized the trade might work out well for him. Peter figured the Dodgers, who love versatility, would certainly covet him and his ability to play all around the field.
Once he got to spring training, Peter didn’t waste any time trying to impress the Dodgers. In 26 big-league spring training games, he smacked three home runs and drove in 14 runs. Despite the strong showing, though, he was sent back to Triple-A, this time with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. While he didn’t break camp with the Dodgers, the spring was still a success.
“I think he’s definitely on the radar,” said Oklahoma City manager Bill Haselman. “I think they were impressed with his spring training. They liked what they saw. He definitely got himself noticed.”
Just like Peter anticipated, the Dodgers loved his ability to bounce around the field.
“It’s huge,” Haselman said. “The Dodgers really value versatile players, and you can put him pretty much anywhere, which gives him a lot of value. He’s a great kid and great teammate.”
Haselman, who coached Peter in the 2015 Arizona Fall League, a league for some of baseball’s biggest prospects, has seen him come a long way since then.
“I think he’s improved a ton since then,” Haselman said. “I really liked what I saw in spring training. He hit for power, plays the game hard and is locked in. Really, I think he has a bright future.”
Peter said the plan is for him to continue getting playing time everywhere. He anticipates the bulk of it will come at second and third along with some time in the outfield and maybe some at shortstop and first base.
“Wherever they need me in the lineup that night is where I’ll get my practice in at BP,” Peter said.
The trade is already working out. Oklahoma City’s first series of the season brought Peter back to his home state to play the Iowa Cubs. He’s had fans and family flocking to Principal Park throughout the series to visit him.
Peter’s family even rented out a skybox for Saturday night’s game. Before he came back, the last time Peter played at the park was in 2011, as a part of the Mason City team that lost to Dowling Catholic in the Class 4-A championship game. Peter said walking into the stadium brought memories flooding back.
“We got our butts kicked — that’s what I really remember about it,” Peter said with a smile. “It was real cool, coming to this ballpark for the first time since my senior year of high school and kind of seeing some of the things that have changed, especially around the field and everything like that.”
Peter even celebrated his 25th birthday on opening day in Iowa last Thursday.
“Even just being back in the state of Iowa and being so close to home, it’s a really good feeling.”
Peter is also happy to have a new home.
“I’ve really enjoyed everybody that I’ve met throughout the organization,” Peter said. “I’m really happy that I’m a Dodger.”