The Evolution of Brad Peacock
Today’s trivia question: What current Chiefs player does this description fit from his high school days?
“He started as a sophomore at third base. He was basically a weak, skinny kid.”
Steve Lombardozzi? Matt Antonelli? Seth Bynum? Nope…try the pitchers.
How about the highest-ranked Nationals prospect outside of Bryce Harper, and a starting pitcher – Brad Peacock?
Here’s more from Peacock’s high school baseball coach at Palm Beach Central in Florida, Scott Benedict:
“We had a very talented team, and he was a very talented third baseman – ability, work ethic, mental toughness…he had good feet, he’d throw it across the diamond about waist-high the whole way. As he got stronger, he became a better hitter. He hit a grand slam against a tough team in the regional playoffs one year. He didn’t throw any his junior year, then the summer between his junior and senior years he started working off the mound a bit, just a little. Then his senior year, I think he threw 8 innings for us.”
Palm Beach Central was no slouch on the high school circuit. The team was ranked as high as #3 in the country in Peacock’s senior year. But Benedict wishes he’d made at least one change.
“In retrospect I should have pitched him more,” said Benedict with a laugh. ”I was a real genius! Should have made him a closer. We didn’t win the state title in the playoffs, we lost a very close game. In retrospect, I wish I’d have brought him in, and I didn’t.”
Peacock shone at third base for Benedict’s squad, playing what coach calls “Gold Glove” type defense. In a win against Sarasota High School, the then-#1 team in the country, Peacock started a triple play at third base in an upset win. But soon enough, people would realize where the right-handed thrower’s future lied.
Peacock played for the Georgia Stars, a summer league team during his high school years, with former major leaguer Scott Grove as his pitching coach. Benedict had seen Peacock’s arm strength in action at third base and wanted to know if it would translate to the mound.
“I remember when I first got to Georgia,” Grove said, “Scott (says), ‘Hey, this kid has a great arm, real raw. Do you mind watching him throw a bullpen?’ And I took him down to the bullpen, and he was right. He had exceptional arm strength, a real loose arm, pretty raw mechanically. But we worked on his mechanics and he started pitching for us that summer, and the rest is history. He just really blossomed, and I know the year that he’s having this year is just unbelievable.”
Grove worked extensively with Peacock on several things over the summers. One was the ability to pitch downhill, altering his mechanics to keep the ball low in the strike zone. Another was the developing of three pitches that Peacock still uses effectively today.
“We worked on a two seam fastball as well as a four seam fastball, a curveball which was more of a slurve at the time with real tight break, and a circle change,” said Grove. ”Just watching him at the Futures Game, he was totally in control of all three pitches and has command of all three pitches where he can throw them at any time in the count. I think that has a lot to do with the success now.”
Back in the summers of 2005 to 2007, did Grove have any idea that success would come?
“It was so hard at that time (to tell) because he was so young. He’s really developed physically. You kinda knew something was special about him way back when he threw his first bullpen, with the way the ball came out of his hand. As far as being surprised, not really, because he was always one of those kids that was a dirt dog at the ball field. (He) always wanted to play, always was listening to get better, and had one of the best high school coaches in the country in Scott Benedict. I’m not real surprised because of the way the ball came out of his hand – it was just so free and easy. As time went on, as he got stronger and developed his lower body. It’s just so great to see, and he’s so close to the big leagues right now.”
That big league call-up could come sooner rather than later. Nationals manager Davey Johnson has specifically mentioned by Peacock by name as a player he’d like to see in September. That potential promotion to the majors would certainly jog Benedict’s memory.
“You know who I had that was a first rounder that’s with the Nationals?” said Benedict. ”(Reliever) Sean Burnett. I was lucky enough to be at his major league debut when he was with the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Sean was a similar type guy; he was a good position player, too.”
It seems to be just a matter of time before Peacock makes his first major league appearance. It’s a long way removed from the skinny third baseman who threw nearly as many innings in his senior year as he did in his last Triple-A start.
For more on Brad Peacock, check out our “Before They Were Chiefs” feature on Peacock at our Inside Pitch podcast. This link will take you right to the piece.
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