Instead of waiting until the final weekend of the year, the Washington Nationals have named Steve Lombardozzi and Brad Peacock as their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Both players will be honored prior to the game tonight.
Both players began the year with Double-A Harrisburg, both having been called up last year from Potomac — key cogs in the machine that would win the 2010 Carolina League Championship. Both were also a part of the Arizona Fall League Championship team.
Lombardozzi has had the double-edged sword of being the son of a former major-leaguer: the sneer of “legacy pick” as well as the expectations of living up to the name. The 22-year-old (turns 23 in two weeks) was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 Draft out of St. Petersburg (FL) Junior College and has steadily moved up the ladder, hitting for average at each stop, and developing some gap power along the way.
A shortstop in college, both Baseball America and John Sickels praise the move to second, citing a fringy arm, which is most apparent on balls to his right. That said, Lombardozzi has above-average hands and further compensates for his average range by positioning himself well on defense. Consequently, he’s made just 27 errors in 442 minor-league games for a .987 fielding percentage.
Peacock has had a longer road to The Show, drafted in 2006 as “draft and follow” out of Palm Beach (FL) Community College. A shortstop in high school, Peacock has learned the craft along the way. The 2011 season was actually his first minor-league season in which he (A) had more wins than losses, a.k.a. “a winning record” (B) more than 10 wins. It’s actually just his second season with a sub-4.00 ERA.
As Sickels put it in his 2011 book:
I know… won-loss record is irrelevant to prospect status but you have to admit it looks weird to see a guy who is actually a good prospect have a 19-35, .352 record in his career… His FIPs are consistently much better than the ERAs [but] he’s got the stuff to succeed and I think he’s a sleeper.
Indeed. Peacock caught my eye last summer and became a favorite subject, especially as he figured out that striking out in double-digits wasn’t as important as going seven innings, which culminated in a five-hit shutout shortly before his callup to Hagerstown.
Unlike last year, both men figure to be “in the conversation” for the 2012 ballclub. What remains to be seen is in what capacity: starter or reliever, everyday player or off the bench.