Kyle Peter drafted by Tigers, playing ball in New York

Matt Resnick

He’s blazed a path all the way to up-state New York.

Former Washburn baseball star Kyle Peter, known for his game-changing speed, was drafted in the 34th round by the Detroit Tigers, the 1,047th overall selection in the June 2007 Major League Baseball draft.

Peter started his rookie year in the Gulf Coast League, playing in only three games before being promoted to the Class A Short Season Oneonta (NY) Tigers of the New York-Penn League. Batting lead-off and playing centerfield, his speed was on full display as he stole 14 bases and scored 29 runs in just 45 games.

“It was pretty exciting getting drafted, a once in a life-time opportunity,” said Peter. “I was definitely nervous at the beginning of the season, not knowing what to expect. There was an adjustment period playing almost every day. It was more of a grind than in college.”

Oneonta is located in upstate New York, 20 miles from Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In late July Oneonta played the Aberdeen IronBirds, owned by baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. The two teams met at famed Doubleday field in Cooperstown during the weekend of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Ripken and former San Diego Padre outfielder Tony Gwynn. Prior to the game Ripken shook hands with the players and threw out the first the pitch.

“The overall experience of the entire year has been awesome,” said Peter. “Things started off well for me and I was moved up a league. Then, when I joined Oneonta, I didn’t play very well at first, but I feel like I’ve progressed a lot and am pleased with the way I finished the year.”

Peter played two years for Cloud County Community College before joining Washburn his junior year, playing in 48 games for the Ichabods. He hit .337, scoring 61 runs and swiping 27 bases in 29 attempts. Peter decided to forgo his senior year, signing with the Tigers. Washburn baseball coach Steve Anson said that Peter’s speed will be sorely missed.

“In all the years I’ve coached and played, I don’t know if I’ve ever been on the field with a faster player than Kyle,” said Anson. “He takes really outstanding speed to the game, which is going to present an opportunity for him to stay around for a while. You just don’t find that. With that type of speed, you hit the ball in the gap and have a chance for a double or triple every time. It’s a loss for us, but I’m happy for him and pleased that he gets the opportunity to go and play. Not everybody gets that chance.”

Oneonta was one of four teams in the New York-Penn League to make the playoffs, losing to the Auburn Doubledays in a best of three series, two games to one. Peter’s friend and teammate is former Seaman High School baseball star Chris Carlson. Carlson played for the University of New Mexico in college and had a big season at the plate for Oneonta.

Washburn related.

Former Washburn baseball player Jared Head plays for the Cleveland Indians minor league affiliate, the Kinston Indians (Class A-Advanced Carolina League). Head played in 83 games for Kinston this year, hitting five home runs and batting in 32 runs. Head was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he will learn a new position, catcher.