It’s understandable when one of the best high school baseball players in the state wants a break from the game.
In order to get to and stay at that level it requires six or more days a week during the high school season practicing or playing the game and it will dominate their summer if they play American Legion ball.
Jarett Peterson uses what little free time he has to teach children more about baseball.
“He really likes to see kids do well,” Dallas senior Scot McDonald said. “He wants to see them do things correctly.”
Dallas High School’s ace pitcher constantly is at the practices and games of his 10-year-old brother, Nolan.
“My little brother is better than me so I like to mess with him,” Peterson said. “He will be a lot better than me. He’s already throwing harder than me. He’s playing with 12 year olds and smashing the ball.
“He hit a home run before I ever did. He’s a little phenom kid. He’s fun to be around.”
The funny thing is that the 6-foot-2, 205 pound senior sees unintended positive benefits from work with children.
“I think it makes us better because it makes us realize some things that we didn’t necessarily realize before by telling them how to do it,” he said.
“When you talk about it and you’re discussing it with someone else then you realize something that you may not have realized like I went 0 for 4 because I was dropping my back side or my knob wasn’t pointing toward the catcher. You realize little things like that then you go 4 for 4 the next day.”
It was far more common for Peterson to have the latter performance than the former this season.
Peterson was a first-team all-Mid-Willamette Conference selection, a first-team Class 5A all-state selection and is the Statesman Journal All-Mid-Valley baseball player of the year.
Though Peterson has turned himself into a dominant pitcher – he was 8-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 79 strikeouts against 13 walks in 59 innings pitched as his team’s No. 1 starter this season – his development was a long time coming.
As a child he worked a lot with his father, J.D. Peterson – also a Dallas grad and standout baseball player – to develop himself into what he is today.
“When I was little I probably worked on it 10 times harder than I do now,” Peterson said.
“It was awful. I wasn’t necessarily the most athletic person, and I’m not still now, but hard work kind of made it to where I could do it. And repetition with my dad.”
He and teammate and long-time friend Scott Schepige spent a lot of time before and during his senior season of high school at the hitting facility of Dick Fobert in Dallas, and his work showed.
For the season Peterson batted .494 with 16 doubles and three home runs.
But in the Mid-Willamette Conference schedule he batted .574 to break the league record. He also had a stellar .951 slugging percentage in the league.
“It’s really hard to do that,” Peterson said. “Honestly I had no idea I was batting that well. It didn’t seem like it.”
Peterson is in his third year of playing American Legion ball.
After his sophomore year of high school baseball he tried out for and made the team for the Post 9 Highwaymen.
Even he was surprised he made the team.
Though he looked older, he was a young 15 years old.
“I remember standing in line the day they were handing out jerseys and it was oldest to youngest where players who have been there before and players that haven’t, and they were all, you can go ahead of me, you can go ahead of me,” said Peterson, who is playing for the Dallas-based Post 20 Dirtbags this summer. “I’m at the end of the line. They were all shocked that I was 15.”
Peterson’s prowess on the pitching mound is what has earned him the most recognition.
A fastball pitcher who has an excellent slider and curveball, he throws strikes at a prodigious rate – he walked six batters as a junior.
Peterson’s fastball regularly is clocked in the 80s and the fastest he has been timed at was 87 miles per hour.
That will increase significantly in the coming years.
“He has the capability with his size and his strength of really increasing velocity,” McDonald said. “He has the potential to be in the 90s when he’s done with college.”
Peterson has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Corban.
He has interest from community colleges and was encouraged by Oregon State assistant Andy Jenkins to go to Mt. Hood, but decided he would rather go to a four-year university where he could be part of a program for four years.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity to play for Jeff McKay,” Peterson said. “He’s been around baseball for a very long time. It’s going to be an exciting thing, and also it’s going to be a learning curve to be coached under him.”
McDonald points out that the 17-year-old Peterson should develop physically in the coming years at Corban.
That should increase his velocity and could take the strikeout pitcher to the next level.
“I think especially pitching is going to be his thing,” McDonald said. “That’s what the next level beyond college can look at. He’s also still growing. I think he’s going to do some weight training and he’ll run and he’s willing to put in that work.
“Kids turn 18 and that’s when they really start developing more physically. He shaves, but it’s probably once every two weeks. That’s something that you can see he maybe will get taller and maybe get stronger.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler