DEREK PETERSON TAKES LITTLE TIME TO ADAPT WITH OWLS’ OFFENSE

By JOHN MURROW | Contributing Writer

Joining the Owls after two years at Olney Central College in Olney, IL, Derek Peterson has made a quick impression on the Temple coaching staff. After being recruited primarily for his presence at the plate, Peterson has found himself batting in the middle of the Owls’ lineup.

“When we recruited [Peterson], I knew he could hit,” Wheeler said. “That was his one strength - his one tool that was above average. I knew he could handle sitting in the middle of the lineup to try to replace Nikorak and so far he has done a very good job at it.”

Through five games with the Owls, Peterson is off to a quick start batting .318 with one double, one triple, one home run and eight RBI. He currently ranks third on the team with a .591 slugging percentage in 22 at-bats.

“I have been working with coach Kevin Small, coach Taylor Juran, and coach Wheeler about different approaches to hitting and it has worked,” Peterson said. “I feel like I made the transition pretty well. My junior college experience played a great role in that. I had great coaching from junior college coach Conley, who is one of the best in the nation as far as preparing a player to make the jump and it has paid off.”

A major catalyst in Temple’s two wins against No. 24 Virginia Tech on Saturday, Feb. 23 and Holy Cross on Sunday, Feb. 24, Peterson earned the honor as Philadelphia Baseball Review’s Player of the Week. In three games, Peterson finished the weekend 6-for-16 with eight RBI and three extra base hits, one of which was a fourth inning home run in Temple’s 13-12 win over Holy Cross.

“He’s been tremendous,” Wheeler said. “He’s very passionate about the game and he comes to the field with energy and excitement every day and I think it rubs off on our guys. He’s just been phenomenal so far.”

After spending two years in Olney, IL, Peterson said Temple was the right fit for him as he wanted to attend a school closer to his hometown of Wall, N.J.

“I’m a native of N.J. and being back on east coast was really important to me and being close to my family played a large part in the process too,” Peterson said. “You can’t beat the facilities [at Temple] and the University is a really exciting place to play. I think we can do a lot here. The opportunity was really appealing.”

Along with helpful coaches at Temple, it has been fellow teammates such as sophomore infielder Nick Lustrino and senior third baseman Henry Knabe that have helped Peterson to adjust with the Owls, Peterson said.

Over the summer, Peterson said he worked hard to work on his swing as well as his core and credits his early success to his hard off-season work. Along with hard work, Peterson has a family history of success in baseball, as his father Rick Peterson is currently the Director of Pitching Development for the Baltimore Orioles.

A former 21st draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1976, Wheeler said the baseball background the Peterson family has gives Derek an advantage some others do not have.

For the rest of the young season, Peterson emphasized that he does not have any personal goals, just as he didn’t have any specific goals entering his first season with Temple.

“For me, it’s really more of a team goal,” Peterson said. “The atmosphere here is about turning a new page and getting us back to the top. Temple University was one of the best programs in the nation and I think that we are inching back to that point.”

- John Murrow is a contributing writer for the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

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