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Peacock makes major strides in 2011

Nationals right-hander earns MiLBY for Best Double-A Starter
October 26, 2011
In Spring Training this year, Brad Peacock made some minor adjustments to his delivery. During the season, they paid off in a major way.

The Nationals prospect went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 98 2/3 innings for the Harrisburg Senators, earning the MiLBY award for Best Double-A Starter.

Garrett Richards, Arkansas

Garrett Richards made his case for a MiLBY with a personal 10-game winning streak. From May 4-July 30, the Angels prospect was unbeatable, posting a 1.69 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 14 starts. Despite spending a month in the Major Leagues, he still tied for second in the Texas League with 12 wins and ranked third with a 3.15 ERA.
"We thought some changes to hide the ball better would help him, so we began working on deception and getting more direct to the plate when he threw the ball," Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin said. "He committed to it, was all fired up about it, worked really hard on it and carried it into the season. Things started clicking and he had a great year."

Armed with two-seam and four-seam fastballs to go along with his curveball and changeup, Peacock fanned 129 batters at Double-A. In only two of his 16 appearances did he fail to strike out as many batters as innings pitched.

Before being promoted in mid-July, the 23-year-old right-hander was leading the Eastern League in strikeouts, WHIP (0.86) and opponents' batting average (.179). He was also tied for the league lead in wins and ranked second in ERA.

"There were many times that you saw hitters' reactions to his fastball where the ball was on them a lot quicker than they were anticipating, even though they knew he throws in the low-to-mid 90s," Tomlin said. "They see that quite often, but they could not get a read on the timing. Sometimes back in the dugout, you could see them explaining to other guys about how the ball jumped out of his hand."

Drafted in the 41st round in 2006, Peacock had never put together a full-season ERA below 4.14 before 2011. In 38 2/3 Double-A innings in 2010, he compiled a 4.66 ERA, striking out 30. He walked 22 batters in seven starts with Harrisburg that season, compared to 23 walks in more than twice as many innings for the Senators this year.

"The big thing we saw was the command of the fastball, and also hitters were able to make consistent contact with the fastball," Tomlin said of Peacock's 2010 struggles with Harrisburg. "I think it did help him a lot to make little adjustments in his delivery to add that deception and also get him working more direct to the plate, not cutting across the body."

The highlight of Peacock's season came May 13 against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, when he struck out a career-high 14 batters while allowing just one run over seven innings.

"You hear it said often about pitchers, but [Richmond] had no chance against him," Tomlin said. "His stuff was so electric that day. His fastball -- not only his command but the life on it -- the ball was just on them. He threw his curveball for strikes enough and mixed in his changeup effectively. They took bad swings all day. Even some of their better hitters were walking back to the dugout with a puzzled look on their face."

Peacock went on to enjoy more success at Triple-A, where he went 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 48 innings. He then earned a promotion to the Majors and allowed just one run in 12 innings en route to a 2-0 record.

Overall, he ranked second in the Minors with 15 wins and placed seventh with 178 total strikeouts.

"I really thought Brad had a shot to reach the Majors from the first time I saw him, and everyone in the organization would believe that because of the stuff that he showed -- plus fastball, plus curveball and plus changeup," Tomlin said. "The thing that needed to happen was him believing in himself and doing the things he needed to do to become a good pitcher."

As Peacock continues to mature, Tomlin believes the Florida native could ultimately become a high-end starter in the big leagues.

"He's a horse in a sense, because he doesn't lose stuff throughout the game," Tomlin said. "He's throwing as hard or harder in the seventh, eighth inning as he was in the beginning. The durability is there. He's a guy that could eat up innings and develop into a guy that's at the front end of a rotation."

David Heck is a contributor to