The New York Mets hope they found another All-Star in Oregon.
Three years after selecting Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto with the 10th overall selection in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft, the Mets took former Medford Rogues player David Peterson with the 20th pick and signed the Oregon junior just before the signing deadline Friday.
The 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher reportedly received a signing bonus of $2,994,500. Tyler Anderson previously had the largest bonus given to a former Duck when he received $1.4 million as the 20th overall selection by Colorado in 2011.
“It’s incredible, a dream come true,” Peterson said in a conference call with New York reporters after he was picked June 12. “My dream in life was always to be a pro baseball player and play in the majors. Being drafted in the first round by the Mets was very exciting. I am overwhelmed with joy.”
Conforto was chosen for next week’s All-Star Game after batting .285 with 14 homers in his third pro season with the Mets. Tommy Tanous, New York’s vice president of international and amateur scouting, said there were similarities in scouting Conforto and Peterson.
“They had similar paths, both played for Team USA and played in the Northwest,” he said. “All scouts pick out players they like and then go attack that list.”
Peterson went 11-4 with a 2.51 ERA as a junior for the Ducks to earn all-American honors. The Denver native hopes to join the list of pitchers from Colorado who reached the majors that includes Goose Gossage, Roy Halladay and Mark Melancon.
“Colorado is huge for me, it’s where I went to high school and spent my early years, and I always want to represent where I’m from,” he said. “There have been multiple pitchers who had lengthy major-league careers that are known as some of the best. My goal is to make an impact in a rotation and play in the majors for a long time.”
Peterson said he also admires New York pitchers Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard.
“I watch the best and see what they do, and two of the best examples are Harvey and Syndergaard,” he said. “The Mets rotation is a great example of some of the best pitchers, along with guys like Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale and David Price, guys at the top of their game. I like to watch what they do on and off the field and how they go about their business to be at their best.”
Peterson was selected in the 28th round by Boston out of high school in 2014 before choosing to play for the Ducks. He went 4-6 with a 4.39 ERA as a freshman and 4-5 with a 3.63 ERA as a sophomore before moving up draft charts as a junior when he set a single-season school record with 140 strikeouts.
Peterson is second to Anderson in school history with 273 strikeouts. Peterson is sixth with 19 wins.
“I believe my greatest strength is being a competitor,” he said. “Whether I have good stuff or bad stuff, I want to give my team 100 percent of what I have, that’s my motto.”
Peterson was one of three Ducks who turned pro after their junior season. Catcher Tim Susnara received a $150,000 signing bonus from Arizona after being drafted in the eighth round and relief pitcher Brac Warren got $50,000 after going in the 17th round to San Francisco.
Siuslaw graduate Jake Thompson signed with Boston for $350,000 after being selected in the fourth round. The right-hander was an All-American as a junior when he went 14-1 with a 1.96 ERA for Oregon State.
Thompson is one of three drafted Oregon State players who signed a pro contract. First baseman K.J. Harrison signed with Milwaukee for $660,000 after being drafted in the third round and relief pitcher Max Engelbrekt was drafted in the final round by Washington and signed for $2,500.
OSU pitcher Drew Rasmussen was taken with the 31st overall selection in the first competitive balance round by Tampa Bay and was expected to receive a bonus of nearly $2 million, but the Rays elected not to sign him because of medical concerns after he returned late in the year from Tommy John surgery.
OSU third baseman Michael Gretler was drafted in the 39th round by Pittsburgh, but will return for his senior season.