The Washington Times - July 10, 2011, 08:14PM

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Brad Peacock worked through his first four years in the Nationals organization with middling success. Peacock never had an ERA above 4.97 but never one below 3.89. He’d moved up through the ranks gradually and finished the 2010 season with a 6-11 record and 4.50 ERA between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

But Peacock — and his coaches — noticed that while the power right-hander would have little trouble disposing of a lineup the first and second times through, the third time would lead to very different results. He was showing the ball, they realized, and hitters were catching on eventually.

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A small change this spring to help him improve his deception has paid huge dividends for Peacock, ranked the No. 42 prospect in baseball in Baseball America’s mid-season report. 

“(Harrisburg pitching coach) Randy Tomlin talked to me a lot and we did a lot of work on hiding the ball better,” Peacock said. “I did a couple different things but I found success with it in Harrisburg and I’m really happy with it.”

Peacock has been one of, if not the, best pitchers in the Eastern League this season working to a 2.01 ERA and striking out a ridiculous 129 batters while walking just 23 in 98 2/3 innings. He’s 10-2 and has already been named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week three different times this season.

“He’s been outstanding,” said Harrisburg manager Tony Beasley, one of the coaches for the USA Futures team. “He’s been a power pitcher for us all year. He throws the ball in the mid-90s, and he’s throwing strikes. He doesn’t walk many people, and he’s throwing a repertoire of three pitches for strikes: (fastball), a good breaking ball, a good changeup.

“And he’s an excellent kid. He’s a competitor. He’s a hard worker. He’s focused. Anything you could want for 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.”

While he was in awe as at Chase Field Sunday in his first-ever All-Star Game, he’s heading to New Hampshire Monday morning for his second, the Eastern League game. It’s a remarkable transformation for a former 41st round draft-and-follow kid who signed in 2007 after being selected in the 2006 draft.

It also doesn’t surprise Beasley.

“That’s the right message,” Beasley said. “Sometimes guys get caught up in their draft status, and that’s not what it’s about. It’s how you perform. If you perform well and you can exceed expectations, anytime you get a chance to play ball, you have a chance to exceed expectations. And that’s what he’s done. He went out and played well and continued to play well each year.

“This year, things have come together for him. 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 that if you play well, you have an opportunity.”

While he was in awe as at Chase Field Sunday in his first-ever All-Star Game, he’s heading to New Hampshire Monday morning for his second, the Eastern League one.

And he may well find himself in the uniform of the Washington Nationals soon enough. While there are still several pitchers above Peacock on the Nationals depth chart, like left-hander Tom Milone, right-hander Brad Meyers and even left-hander Ross Detwiler, who is currently in the bullpen for the Nationals, Peacock isn’t far behind. For his part, Peacock says he’s not thinking about when the major league team might come calling, just “taking it day by day,” but it would certainly not be all that surprising to see him a September call-up.

“That’s up to the organization,” Beasley said. “Obviously he’s in Double-A. When he gets a chance to go to Triple-A and continues to do what he does there, then who knows? I guess whatever we need up top. We’ve pitched very well this year. So it’s good to have depth like that in the organization, so you know you have guys coming that can help at some point. I think whenever he gets the call, he’ll be ready.”