After a successful first season as the Orioles director of pitching development, will there be a second for Rick Peterson?
After spending just about every season since 1998 as a major league pitching coach for the Oakland A’s, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers, Peterson was in a different role this season after being hired in January by the Orioles.
It sure seemed like his first season produced solid results as he oversaw the development of top prospect Dylan Bundy. Several pitchers came up from the minors to help the Orioles and some that were sent back returned to Baltimore later to help the big club. The pitching program Peterson brought to the Orioles included the most extensive use of biomechanical analysis of any organization in baseball.
In a phone interview Thursday, he sounded like a man that wanted to return to the Orioles.
Like many in baseball right after a season ends, Peterson does not yet have a contract for 2013 but said he met with executive vice president Dan Duquette in September and that he would be open to returning.
“This was a really enjoyable year this year to work with Dan and Buck (Showalter) and our entire staff,” Peterson said. “I think this was a really successful year. Implementing an organization-wide pitching program is always a challenge.
“But we put in a program and brought the (biomechanical analysis) lab to spring training and it was the first time ASMI (American Sports Medicine Institute) has done that so there were some ground-breaking things within the industry.
“I had a nice meeting with Dan right before I went to instructional league. It was very productive. We talked about moving forward, but this is the time where organizations are reviewing everything and taking a look at where they want go for next year. We haven’t yet talked specifically about next year.”
Peterson felt the program he implemented for the Orioles was well received from the top down, by Duquette, Showalter and his staff, and also the minor league coaches.
“I felt really good about it,” Peterson said. “This is unique for everyone and everyone has to commit to this and be open minded. From that standpoint, it was incredibly successful.
“From the feedback I got from some guys that cover this nationally like Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal and (injury expert) Will Carroll they are looking at our organization as literally forward thinking pioneers in what we’ve done this year. I think we raised a lot of eyebrows and this will be enlightening for this industry.”
There is a lot of credit and praise to be passed around for the improvement of Orioles pitchers this year. That should start with the pitchers themselves and then Showalter for his handling of the staff, along with pitching coach Rick Adair.
Peterson’s program really can take root at the minor league level and he feels the future for O’s minor league pitchers is very bright.
“Literally just coming back from instructional league and taking a look at the progress some of those kids made. It was progress in leaps and bounds,” he said. “That is not just my assessment but from our scouts and also from scouts on other teams. They would come up to us and say, ‘I saw some of these guys last year and to see them now.’ So the feedback industry-wide has been really exciting. Also the feedback from the kids themselves. They see the progress they’ve made.
“Plus we really stayed healthy this year. According to the trainers, our injury rates were way down from past years. From that standpoint, we made a lot of progress.
“This comes from some of the main scouts in our organization that have been here many years. They said we went from an organization that was desperately in need of pitching to a pitching-rich organization. That is incredible. That was the scouts’ comments.”
But after working as a big league pitching coach for 12 seasons, if another organization came calling for Peterson, would he have a tough decision to make?
“If there are other opportunities, I certainly would be open to listen,” he said. “But primarily right now, this was such an honor and privilege to be part of the resurrection of this organization that I’m so grateful and I’d like to move forward with this.”