The 2022 MLB Draft is underway as the first half of the regular season comes to a close. The Cubs were able to snap their 9-game losing streak going into the All-Star break with a 3-2 win against the New York Mets. After drafting pitchers Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris on Day 1, the Cubs can look at a local kid who had a lot of success in the Big East for some mid-draft value.
Who Is Austin Peterson?
Austin Peterson graduated from Chesterton High School in 2018 and had lots of success at the high school level. Peterson won conference Pitcher of the Year twice and finished his career with an ERA of 0.80.
Following a successful high school career, Peterson stayed in Indiana to pitch at Purdue University. He appeared in 25 games but only started in one, and following the COVID-19 pandemic, transferred to Connecticut where he saw substantial success.
Peterson got to Connecticut for the 2021 season and went right to work. Peterson started 15 games with a 2.91 ERA and finished with a 7-1 record. Austin recorded 82 strikeouts in 80.1 innings while only walking 21 hitters.
Connecticut went 33-17 and headed off to South Bend for the Regional hosted by Notre Dame. Peterson pitched in the first game, a win against Michigan. Peterson allowed only 2 hits and 1 earned run over 5.2 innings while he struck out 7. Success in his first Regional appearance paved the road for an incredible 2022 season.
Austin was named to Second Team All-BIG EAST as a Junior. He finished the year third in innings pitched in the conference. The 6’6 right-hander was ready to lead UConn to another playoff birth as a senior.
Austin had another great regular season, helping the Huskies make it to another Regional, this one in College Park, Maryland. Peterson started Game 1 against Wake Forest, pitching 6 innings, allowing 2 earned and striking out 11. He did not earn the win but kept his team in a game they won 8-7.
After splitting 2 games against the host Maryland, Peterson relieved his teammate and added 2.1 innings striking out 5. This relief appearance was Peterson’s only one of the season. Austin earned the win as Connecticut headed to Stanford for the Super Regional.
The Huskies fought hard against Stanford, but lost the series in 3 games. Peterson struggled against the #2 ranked Cardinal, but demonstrated the ability to help his team win as a starter or in an emergency bullpen role.
As a team captain, Austin helped the Huskies finish with a 50-16 record as well as a Big East and Regional Title. This was good for 1st team All-BIG EAST, BIG EAST All-Tournament Team, New England Pitcher of the Year, First Team NCBWA All-American, and many other awards. The 147 strikeouts Austin recorded is the most in a season in UConn baseball history.
Why The Cubs?
Even 5 minutes of watching the Cubs this year will tell you that they need to continue to find pitching. This was evident with their first and second round selections, but you can never ever have too many strong arms and Austin certainly fits that description. At 6’6, he has a commanding presence on the mound but without any of command issues you may expect from someone his size.
Over his two seasons with Connecticut he demonstrated two things, the ability to dominate opponents he should dominate and the ability to excel in the big moments. He proved this by entering out of the bullpen for the first time in the season to help close out Maryland in an elimination game. His 11 wins tied him for second most in the nation.
The Cubs need someone who is not afraid of the big moment nor will take a day off against a “weaker” opponent. In a 162 game season where the division winner can come down to one play in one game in September, I will always want someone who gives 110% and that is Peterson.
Prospectslive.com says Peterson has a “good shot to go on day 2” which would be ideal for the Cubs. A tall, strong right-hander with great command and proven success over the last two years at college is a ton of value for a mid-round pick.