With his MLB debut out of the way, Washington Nationals' starter Brad Peacock makes his MLB debut tonight in Citi Field in New York. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
A 2010 season spent pitching for Class-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg which saw 22-year-old '06 41st Round pick Brad Peacock go (6-11) with a 4.50 ERA, 47 walks (2.98 BB/9) and 148 K's (9.38 K/9) in 26 games, 25 starts and 142.0 IP, earned the right-hander the 10th spot on Baseball America's list of the Washington Nationals' Top 10 Prospects last winter. Baseball America and writer Aaron Fitt judged Peacock the third-best pitching prospect in the organization behind 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis and hard-throwing right-hander Cole Kimball, a 12th Round in the same 2006 Draft class that brought Peacock into the organization. Peacock was singled out as having the Best Curve in the Nats' system. It was Peacock's first appearance on Baseball America's organization rankings since he'd been drafted four years earlier.
Peacock started the 2011 season at Double-A Harrisburg, where he he had a 2.01 ERA, 1.87 FIP, 23 walks (2.10 BB/0), 129 K's (11.77 K/9), a .262 BABIP and .174 BAA, earning the 23-year-old starter a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse after 16 games, 13 starts and 98.2 IP for the Nats' Double-A affiliate. "Peacock just tore up Double-A," Davey Johnson said in discussing the right-hander's September call-up, and he didn't slow down at the next stop on his way to the majors.
Peacock pitched in the All-Star Futures Game this year, appearing alongside Bryce Harper as the Nats' two representatives at the All-Star showcase before moving on to the Nats' top farm team. In 9 starts and 48.0 IP for Triple-A Syracuse, Peacock was (5-1) with a 3.19 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 24 BB (4.50 BB/9) and 48 K's (9.00 K/9). Asked about the rise through the system by the Miami, Florida-born high schooler the Nationals drafted in 2006, Nats' Director of Player Development Doug Harris told SIrius/XM MLB Network host Grant Paulsen in an interview this past July that it could end with the right-hander a part of the Nationals' rotation in the near future:
"I think it's a little unfair at this point to box him into a specific role. He's got a chance as he's showing right now to be a power, command guy and those guys ultimately have a chance to pitch at the top of the rotation if his secondary stuff evolves."
Harris credited Peacock for taking, "... ownership of his career," and noted that Nats' pitching coordinator Spin Williams and the pitching coaches, Paul Menhart, Randy Tomlin and Greg Booker that worked with the right-hander had, "... done some subtle things that have really enabled him to jump on to the scene."
"We've done a couple delivery swtiches with him," Harris explained in the interview, "one to enable him to leverage a baseball more consistently. Two, to improve his deception." What they did seems to have worked. Peacock, as a Nats' Press Release announcing that he'd been named the organization's Pitcher of the Year noted, was named the Double-A Eastern League's Pitcher of the Year, and he, "... was cited in Baseball America's annual Best Tools survey as the "Best Pitching Prospect" and possessing the 'Best Control' in the EL."
Peacock made his debut last week, pitching an inning and a third in relief of Stephen Strasburg in the Nats' ace's return to the major leagues against the Dodgers. Before the game, which was threatened by rain all night before Washington and Los Angeles got the game in with only a short delay, Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson had said that he wanted to use Peacock as a starter out of the pen. "The good news is that I'd give him plenty of time," to prepare for the game, warm up and get loose, but the bad news was he'd be pitching after Strasburg.
"I said he would not relieve during the inning," Johnson said, recalling a conversation he'd had with Peacock, "I said he would start the inning clean and he would warm up as a starter." It didn't quite work that way. Doug Slaten replaced Strasburg in the sixth with Washington up 3-0, and the Nats' lefty surrendered back-to-back singles before striking out LA 1B James Loney. With a hot-hitting right-hander due up, Davey Johnson brought Brad Peacock out of the pen to make his major league debut with one out and two on against Matt Kemp. An RBI single by Kemp, walk to Juan Rivera and two-run single by Andre Ethier later, the game was tied at 3-3. Peacock got the Nats out of the inning and got the first two outs of the next frame before he was removed.
After the game, Johnson was asked about bring Peacock in for his debut in such a tough situation. "I wanted to warm him up earlier," the manager explained, but the threat of rain led him to decide to start with Doug Slaten while Peacock warmed up. "Unfortunately I had to bring [Peacock] in to face the right-hander who happened to be one of the best right-handers in the league, going for the Triple Crown." Clearly it wasn't an ideal situation for a debut. Johnson was forced to go with Peacock there, telling the right-hander, "Well, welcome to the big leagues. And I thought he handled it well."
Tonight, we see how Peacock handles his first major league start against the New York Mets.