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07/10/11 6:30 PM ET

Peacock excited to take part in Futures Game

Nats' top pitching prospect expected to join rotation by '13

PHOENIX -- Doug Harris, the Nationals' vice president of player development, played a practical joke on right-handed prospect Brad Peacock in late June.

Harris informed Peacock that during the week of July 10, Peacock would be shut down for a week and return to the team's Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., to rest his arm.

Peacock was stunned. In his mind, there wasn't a need to be shut down. His arm felt great and he's having the best season in his professional career.

The joke then stopped when Harris then told Peacock that he was really going to the XM All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix. Relieved and excited, Peacock decided to bring his family, including his father, grandfather and girlfriend.

"It's nice to have them here," Peacock said Saturday. "My dad is retired. He comes up five out of the six months of the year to watch me throw. I like that -- I like that a lot."

The most important person in his baseball life, his mother, Jay, couldn't make it to Phoenix because she was under the weather. Jay is the one who taught her son how to play the game of baseball.

According to Brad, Jay was the first woman to manage a Little League team in Palm Beach, Fla., and in a championship.

"She taught me everything," said Peacock, who tossed a scoreless second inning and recorded a strikeout in Sunday's game. "She means a lot to me. When she comes to my games, she is always screaming for me. I can hear her. It's always nice."

Teammate Bryce Harper is the man on center stage at the Futures Game, but Peacock is not overlooked by the Nats.

Peacock is the best pitching prospect in the organization. So much so that by 2013, Peacock is expected to be the No. 3 starter in the rotation behind Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

"It's a great feeling to hear. I can't wait to be up there," Peacock said. "Whenever that is, I don't know. I really don't care where it is in the rotation, to tell you the truth."

Like Strasburg and Zimmermann, Peacock is a power pitcher and has the stats to back it up. He is 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg. Even more impressive, Peacock has struck out 129 in 98 2/3 innings.

"The biggest thing this year is that he has an understanding of what it means to be a pitcher," Harris said. "He always had great stuff, but he started to become a more of cerebral pitcher and execute more consistently."

Said Harrisburg manager Tony Beasley, "This guy has taken the all every fifth day and just went out there and has dominated, no matter who is the opponent was. He is almost to the point where he is feared. When he comes out, you know how he is going to pitch and you still can't hit it. He is going to challenge you with fastballs 90 percent of the time and get a lot of swings and misses."

There was a point where Peacock wasn't a dominant pitcher. Drafted by Washington in the 41st round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, he never had an ERA below 3.89, and that occurred with the Gulf Coast Nationals.

But the Nats started to realize that they had a special player in Peacock while he was in the Arizona Fall League last offseason. As a reliever, He struck out 17 in 12 innings for the Scottsdale Scorpions. His performance in the AFL gave him the confidence that he could do something special in the pros.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.