The Potential of Peacock

Nationals minor league prospect Brad Peacock has gotten some attention recently thanks to his recent performance. In the first half of the year at AA Harrisburg, he pitched 98 2/3 innings while striking out 129 and walking only 23. His ERA is a miniscule 2.01, and he’s 10-2. The season has been so good that the 23 year old was named as a member of the futures game, and promoted to AAA Syracuse.

So why no fanfare about him before recently? Well, his performance up until this year hadn’t been spectacular. His career ERA was 4.44 before this year, it’s all the way down to 3.99 now. This season hasn’t just dramatically improved his ERA. Peacock’s career K/9 went from 7.4 in March to 8.3 today thanks to a number of 11.8 this season. And his K/BB went from 2.4 to 2.8 on the back of a 5.6 mark this season. So all this excitement is really about this year. What’s different?

Both Ben Goessling and Adam Kilgore report that changes in his delivery are the trick. He is coming from over the top more, a downhill plane that is usually desirable. He is throwing harder and more accurately, while not showing the ball as early in his delivery. All of these things are good things, of course, so the thought is that the improvements will lead to much more success. Now there are suggestions that he could be a third starter. Even Baseball America, as Kilgore mentions, put him in their midseason top 50 prospect list at #42.

But others say, “not so fast.” Keith Law mentioned that Peacock really hasn’t shown a history of a second pitch, and that in the Arizona Fall League he looked like a one pitch reliever. This first half may be evidence to the contrary, but Law mentioned something more worrisome – that he has a high-effort/hard to repeat delivery that may hinder his potential as a starter.

Peacock may well end up being a starter, although it is hard for me to project him as a #3 with so little success behind him. But even if he doesn’t start in the majors, he looks like he could be a solid reliever, a not-quite-closer type that teams need plenty of in their bullpen. And for a guy who was picked in the 41st round, and nobody was paying any attention to before late last summer, that’s pretty exciting.

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