ERIE, Pa. – Johnsonburg native Cole Peterson will begin the 2021 minor league season relatively close to home.
Peterson, a Detroit Tigers’ farmhand, is on the opening day roster for their Class AA affiliate, the Erie Seawolves.
Meanwhile, former Punxsutawney standout Ryan Slongier will begin his season with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Low-Class A affiliate Dunedin (Florida). He is one of two former Chucks in the minors, as Johnny Matthews will begin the 2021 season with the Texas Rangers’ Low-Class A affiliate, the Down East Wood Ducks.
Peterson had 137 at-bats with the Seawolves in 2019, hitting .219 with five doubles, eight RBIs, and three stolen bases.
There was no 2020 minor league season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peterson began the 2019 season at Class High-A Lakeland, where he hit .284 with 23 stolen bases in 275 at-bats. He spent time at three levels in 2019, briefly being promoted to Class AAA Toledo, where he had three hits in 14 at-bats. He is widely regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the minors.
Peterson helped lead Johnsonburg to the 2013 PIAA championship before a standout career at St. Bonaventure University. The Tigers selected him in the 13th round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft.
The Seawolves open their season May 4 at Reading, with their home opener slated for May 11 against Akron.
Sloniger, meanwhile, hit .304 between Rookie League Bluefield and Class A Short Season Vancouver.
In a combined 158 at-bats, the catcher hit 10 home runs (9 at Bluefield), with 31 RBIs. He slashed .304/.379/.551 between the two levels.
Sloniger was a 38th round pick of the Blue Jays after a stellar collegiate career at Penn State.
The minor leagues have a new format for 2021, with Dunedin part of the Low-Class West and Erie Class AA Northeast.
Matthews, a pitcher, enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at Kent State and was an eighth-round pick of the Rangers in the 2019 draft. In 2019, he posted a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings pitched between the Rangers’ Rookie League team in Arizona and Class A Short-Season Spokane.
The Down East Wood Ducks are located in Kinston, North Carolina.
Former Harbor Creek standout Isaac Mattson has been with the Baltimore Orioles Alternate Site squad since the end of spring training. Mattson played at three different levels – High-Class A Inland Empire, Class AA Mobile and Class AAA Salt Lake, as well as in the Arizona Fall League in 2019.
The relief pitcher had a combined 2.82 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP in 73 1/3 innings pitched in 2019. He struck out 110 and walked 27. He was a 19th round selection of the Los Angeles Angels after three seasons at the University of Pittsburgh.
Mattson joined the Orioles as part of a trade that sent pitcher Dylan Bundy to the Angels in December of 2019.