Brad Peacock’s career path, from light-hitting high school third baseman to 41st-round draft pick to Eastern League pitcher of the year, could take one more wild twist tonight. Peacock could make his major league debut tonight as a stand-in for Stephen Strasburg.
Peacock was among six new players added to the Nationals’ active roster today as September call-ups. When the season began with Peacock in Class AA Harrisburg, Peacock had no inclination he may make the major leagues this season. After an utterly dominant four months in Harrisburg and a quick stop at Class AAA Syracuse, here he is.
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Peacock said. “I’m ready to get out there and get the nerves out.”
Peacock could debut under auspicious circumstances. If tonight’s game starts but Manager Davey Johnson feels it could be delayed, he will scratch Strasburg and let Peacock pitch. If Strasburg’s start goes off without a hitch, then Peacock will still replace him in relief after four innings or so.
His arrival in the major leagues caps an unconventional road to the majors. Peacock did not even pitch in high school, and never even considered professional baseball as an option.
“I was a pretty good third baseman in high school,” Peacock said. “I just couldn’t hit at all. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere with that. I asked my high school coach if I could pitch, and he threw me out there for a couple games.”
Peacock ended up pitching eight innings in high school and enjoyed success. He asked his coach if he could join his summer league team. The coach agreed, and Peacock pitched with enough raw potential to land on the Nationals’ radar. They drafted Peacock, to his surprise, in the 41st round.
In the first years of his career, Peacock showed promise and raw stuff, racking up strikeouts but having trouble translating it into sustained success. Last year, he created buzz by touching 97 miles per hour during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. This spring, he worked with Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin to make minor tweaks to his approach and delivery.
“Just breathing out there, relaxed,” Peacock said. “I worked on one thing, and that was hiding the ball better. It’s worked out.”
Peacock exploded this season. Baseball America named him the 42nd best prospect in baseball midway through the season. At the end of the year, he was named the Eastern League pitcher of the year. In 23 starts between Harrisburg and Syracuse, Peacock went 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 146 2/3 innings.
This weekend, Peacock learned he would be joining the Nationals, a major leaguer at 24. He could not have imagined that just a few years ago.
“Not even close,” Peacock said. “That’s why I’m so excited to be here. To actually be here, it’s kind of surreal.”
The Nationals added five other players to their active roster today, putting their roster at a whopping 36 players. The Nationals also called up right-handed pitchers Yunesky Maya and Craig Stammen, outfielder Corey Brown, infielder Stephen Lombardozzi and left-handed reliever Atahualpa Severino.
Both Peacock and Lombardozzi had to be added to the 40-man roster. Stephen Strasburg had been on the 60-day disabled list, which meant the Nationals had to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him, too. To make room for those three players, the Nationals released reliever Adam Carr, designated Garrett Mock for assignment and transferred reliever Cole Kimball to the 60-day disabled list.