FORT MYERS, Fla. - Colorado left-hander David Peterson could have opted to stay right in his own backyard and make his Perfect Game debut at the PG Rocky Mountain Showcase in Greenwood Village, Colo., over the Memorial Day weekend. In fact, many of his teammates at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) High School decided to do just that.
But Peterson, a hard-throwing 6-foot-6, 210-pounder from Denver who is a top-1000 ranked prospect in the class of 2014, is here this weekend, making his PG debut at the 2012 Perfect Game National Academic Showcase at the Player Development 5-Plex.
Attending the Rocky Mountain Showcase might have made a little bit more sense logistically for Peterson, but that's just not the way things worked out. Regis Jesuit was still involved in the Colorado Class 5A state championship finals on Saturday, May 26, and while many of his teammates decided to come out to the Rocky Mountain for one day on that following Sunday, Peterson decided to take a break before heading this direction this weekend.
"I did consider (the Rocky Mountain) but I was still involved in the state finals," Peterson said Saturday afternoon. "My family and I decided to take just a few days off before I came down here for this one."
Peterson is one of more than 80 prospects here this week for the PG National Academic, who join more than 160 prospects who are attending the PG Sunshine East Showcase which is running simultaneously at the 5-Plex. The two groups did their morning workout sessions together and there will be two inter-showcase games.
The National Academic Showcase is designed for prospects with a 3.0 GPA or higher who might want to be recruited by schools with more lofty academic reputations than some of the others. When speaking with Perfect Game on Saturday, it seemed Peterson's motivation was just to get to noticed, regardless of the showcase he was attending.
"I've heard it's very good for exposure and I haven't really got myself out to the East Coast much. Hopefully I'll get seen out here a little and get my name around out here a little," Peterson said.
"I talked to a few people about it that knew (what it was about) and they spoke very highly of it," he continued, adding that he isn't necessarily looking to be recruited by an Ivy League school or the like. "I'm really just looking to go where ever I can play and get a good education, as well."
Peterson ran a 7.54 60-yard dash on a sloppy track and threw 83 mph across the diamond from first base to third base during the morning workout session. The 83 mph velocity tied for the highest throw among the National Academic players who took part in the drill.
He also pitched three innings in an afternoon game and struck out the side in the first with a fastball that reached 86 mph. There was no letdown. Peterson finished his three innings without allowing a hit or a walk and struck out eight. His fastball topped out at 87 mph and he also came home with a 71 mph curve, a 74 slider and a 77 changeup. Six to eight college coaches gathered behind home plate to watch him pitch.
"I'm just here to see what I can do out here against some good competition and show my stuff to the coaches," Peterson said. "I've heard that it's very good for your high school career so I'm looking forward to doing more of these events."
Peterson has been extended an invitation to the prestigious Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase June 12-13 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, but it isn't clear at this time if he'll be able to attend.
Regis Jesuit finished in third place at this year's Colorado Class 5A state tournament behind champion and arch-rival Cherry Creek and runner-up Legend. Jesuit won the championship in 2011 when Peterson was a freshman.
"I didn't know what was going to happen because of graduating all the seniors that we had from the state championship team, but the guys really stepped up and we had a really fun year," Peterson said. "We had pretty good results, too."
Peterson had an impressive sophomore season pitching on the varsity for head coach and former Major League All-Star Walt Weiss. He finished 6-3 with two saves, a 3.26 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings; he also struggled with his control at times, walking 34.
One of Peterson's teammates at Regis Jesuit is second baseman Max George, the proverbial 5-tool guy who was unarguably the top performer at the Rocky Mountain Showcase last weekend. That event was George's first exposure to PG just like the National Academic is the first for Peterson, and George expressed similar reasons for being there.
"I want to meet some new guys and get some more exposure because I know Perfect Game (provides) a lot of exposure," George said last week. "This is my first experience with Perfect Game and it's a great tool to use for (college) recruiting and stuff."
George has officially accepted his invitational to the PG Junior National.
"What I know about it, it just brings a lot of exposure and I'm excited and eager to go. It should be fun," he said. "I'm just looking forward to meeting new guys and getting better every day."
Peterson flew to southwest Florida by himself and is staying at his grandparents' home in nearby Naples while he attends the showcase.