Peoples' career off to a fine start with Lake County
Baseball is full of the unexpected, and for Lake County Captains’ reliever Michael Peoples, the surprises started the day he was drafted.
Peoples, 21, was taken by the Cleveland Indians in the 14th round on the 2012 draft. He said he was educated about the draft due to his relationship with Mark Allen, the Indians’ scout who drafted him. Though he knew the ropes of the draft, Peoples didn’t plan on it. Instead, he spent the day fishing on the lake and missed his own name announced on the conference call and added to the draft roll.
“It was kind of surprising, but I loved it,” Peoples recalled. “It was a great feeling.”
The Texas native attended Western Oklahoma State College, where he pitched as a starter. Now, the Indians have converted him into a reliever, something else he hadn’t expected.
“I’m in a little different role than I expected to be coming into, but it’s fine,” Peoples said. “Whatever they need, I’m going to be doing. I had a really good spring training and everything feels good so far, so I’m just hoping to keep it rolling.”
Peoples started his shift to a long-relief role last year with the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers, where he posted a 2.28 ERA with 21 strikeouts and eight walks through 23.2 innings of work. Though he suffered a strained rotator cuff toward the beginning of the season, he rebounded easily and pitched well through the remainder of the year.
The unexpected transferred into spring training, where Peoples focused on getting in shape and preparing his arm for the season. Though he knew what the full season would entail, he said the idea of a full season required an adjustment.
“One thing I did notice about spring training when I came in not knowing because it was my first, was that having 140 games is a lot different from college,” he said. “Even in Mahoning, we had 70 I think, so being able to keep your body going for 140 games and not just blowing it out right at the beginning was pretty different.”
Peoples worked through spring training with no thoughts or expectations of where he’d end up.
“I was going wherever the organization had me going,” he explained. “I didn’t put any thought or anything into where they wanted me. Wherever they saw me fit was where I was going.”
He ended up with the low-A Lake County Captains, a place where he says he’s glad to be. Peoples says he’s merely focusing on pitching, a generality he knows will transpire as a chance to advance. He noted he’s working on getting ahead of batters, throwing all his pitches for strikes, and working the bottom third of the strike zone.
So far, his approach has worked well for him. Peoples made five appearances before allowing an earned run. His pitches have been consistent as he’s only walked four this season in comparison to his 19 strikeouts.
All that being said, Peoples says he’s not a stats guy. He doesn’t like to dwell on his numbers as he’d prefer to enforce his plan to simply focus on pitching.
“My main focus every time I go out there is just do my job and [get] guys out,” he said.
Peoples’ simple approach has served him well so far, and he says his mentality is his biggest attribute at this moment. He’s keeping things simple, which in return keeps him humble.
“I’d like to say my biggest strength at this point would be my mentality,” he said. “Going out every day, I’ve heard once you’re not humble anymore, there’s a downfall. So I’m focusing on being humble, going out, getting the job done every day whenever they’re calling me, whatever the situation may be.”
With a good mindset and a good season under his belt, Peoples is working on continuing his successful season. His ultimate goal is that of every minor leaguer’s – rise to the big leagues, but for now, he’s enjoying his time in Lake County. He likes to spend his off days hanging outdoors and keeping athletic.
Though he may be out fishing, and though more unexpected things may arise, he won’t miss out on any moments this time.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.