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Brad Peacock retired the side on nine pitches during yesterday's Futures Game.
PHOENIX -- Standing along the two baselines yesterday afternoon at Chase Field were 48 of baseball's most-touted prospects. There were multiple No. 1 draft picks. High-priced international signees. A few guys who have already gotten a taste of the big leagues.
And then there was Brad Peacock, who perhaps boasted a resume as unimpressive as anyone else on the field yet perhaps put forth the most-dominant performance of anyone else in the All-Star Futures Game.
Peacock, a 23-year-old right-hander in the Nationals' farm system, faced three batters in the top of the second inning. He retired all three, not letting a single one hit the ball out of the infield. He needed all of nine pitches (seven strikes) to do this.
Not bad for a guy selected by the Nationals in the 41st round of the 2006 draft. Yes, the 41st round.
"Sometimes guys get caught up in their draft status, and that's not what it's about," said Tony Beasley, who manages Peacock at Class AA Harrisburg. "It's how you perform. The fact he was drafted late ... that's awesome. That's what baseball is all about. That sends a message to everyone in the clubhouse and the organization: If you play well, you have an opportunity."
Peacock has certainly made the most of his, even if he waited until this year to do it.
An otherwise anonymous member of the Nationals' minor-league system the last four seasons, he seemed destined to serve as organizational filler. But given a chance to pitch out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League following the 2010 season, he burst onto the scene. And he's continued to dominate this year at Harrisburg, carrying a 10-2 record, 2.01 ERA and 129-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio into the All-Star break.
The biggest key to Peacock's emergence? He believes it was a minor mechanical tweak, suggested by Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin, that allows him to better hide the ball during his windup.
"Last year, third time around the lineup I would get hit, and I couldn't figure out why," he said. "In spring training, Randy Tomlin talked to me a lot, and we did a lot of work on hiding the ball better. They said I was showing the ball. I watched videos, and I was."
Just like that, Peacock (who some scouts believed would be best-served as a reliever because of his inability to sustain success deep into starts) took his game to new heights.
"It's such a small thing," he said. "That's usually what it is. You've got to change something, and I did."
It also helps that Peacock possesses a repertoire of three above-average pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s changeup that he broke out on his final pitch in the Futures game to get Wilin Rosario to pop out weakly to third base.
After helping lead the team of top American prospects to a 6-4 victory over their international counterparts, Peacock was all smiles. Even if he admittedly had butterflies making the first All-Star appearance of his career.
"Oh god, yes," he said. "I've never pitched a big-league stadium. It was a great experience."
Peacock will get another chance right away to appear in another All-Star Game: the Eastern League's version of the midsummer classic, to be played Wednesday in Manchester, N.H.
After that, he'll return to Harrisburg for the second half of the season, hoping to help the Senators to a playoff berth. Perhaps he'll get promoted to Class AAA Syracuse at some point. Maybe a September call-up to Washington is in the cards.
Not that his current manager wants to lose him anytime soon.
"He's a competitor," Beasley said. "He's a hard worker. He's focused. Anything you could want a 23-year-old to have, he has it. I couldn't be more happy with him. If I had more guys like Peacock, we'd be in really, really good shape. I think he's a true asset to the organization, and somebody that can probably help us in the future."