EL notes: Peacock's stock rises steadily

Former 41st-rounder emerging as a top Nationals prospect

Brad Peacock has recorded 42 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings this season. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

By David Driver / Special to MLB.com | May 10, 2011 6:00 AM ET

Brad Peacock estimates that he pitched just 11 innings during his career at Palm Beach Central High School. Used mostly as a shortstop, he planned to attend Florida Atlantic University before his baseball life abruptly changed.

In June 2006 he was drafted by the Washington Nationals out of high school in the 41st round.

"I didn't know I was going to get drafted," said Peacock, who became a draft-and-follow pick and spent a year at Palm Beach Community College before starting his pro career with Washington in the Gulf Coast League.

"I didn't want to wait three years" to turn pro, said Peacock, who would've had to do just that had he gone straight to Division I Florida Atlantic.

Despite his late-round status, the 23-year-old Peacock began the 2011 season as one of the top pitching prospects in the Washington system.

A 6-foot-1 righty whose fastball has been clocked at 96 mph, he's currently 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his first full season at Double-A Harrisburg. He went 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA in seven starts for the Senators last year following a mid-season promotion from Class A Advanced Potomac.

"He's doing very well," said Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin, who pitched in the Majors with Pittsburgh. "He's started to find things out on his own. His stuff has never been a question. He has three Major League pitches."

Peacock said he pitches off his fastball, and he also has a changeup and knuckle curve.

Last year he led the Washington farm system with 148 strikeouts in 142 innings. He then pitched in the Arizona Fall League and had 17 strikeouts in 12 innings.

"He has the ability to be creative with his pitches," said Harrisburg catcher Derek Norris. "He has the ability to overpower guys with his fastball."

And his secondary pitches?

"It can be a lethal combination," said Norris, the top catching prospect in the Nationals system.

Peacock said the year he spent in junior college was huge in his development. He said his fastball topped out at around 88 mph in high school, but after a year at Palm Beach he was hitting 94.

"From the very first bullpen he threw for us, it was obvious the arm worked fine and he was an excellent athlete," said Kyle Forbes, who was the pitching coach when Peacock played at Palm Beach and is now the interim head coach. "He was a jewel to work with. Whatever you told him to do, he picked it up very quickly. His desire was off the charts. He is a fierce competitor."

In brief

Searching for answers: Harrisburg's Derek Norris said he had a long "heart-to-heart" talk with hitting coach Troy Gingrich in the dugout in Bowie on May 2 after his average fell to .118. Norris, who was on the disabled list April 12-19, hit his first homer the next night and had two hits in his next seven at-bats.

Home run heaven: Three different Eastern League batters hit two homers in a game Saturday: Chih-Hsien Chiang of Portland, Archie Gilbert of Harrisburg and Brahiam Maldonado of Binghamton. Gilbert repeated the performance the following day en route to Player of the Week honors.

Getting started: Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon started for Bowie on Thursday against visiting Harrisburg and allowed three earned runs over five innings. Those in attendance included Andy MacPhail, director of baseball operations for Baltimore, and John Stockstill, the director of player development. Simon is on the Orioles' restricted list after being let out of a Dominican Republic prison in early March. Arrested after a New Year's Day shooting that left one person dead and one injured, the 30-year-old right-hander was granted a visa to enter the United States and is awaiting word on whether he will be charged in the incident.

David Driver is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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