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Brad Pea**** estimates that he pitched just 11 innings during his career at Palm Beach Central High School. Used mostly as a shortstop, he planned to attend Florida Atlantic University before his baseball life abruptly changed.In June 2006 he was drafted by the Washington Nationals out of high school in the 41st round."I didn't know I was going to get drafted," said Pea****, who became a draft-and-follow pick and spent a year at Palm Beach Community College before starting his pro career with Washington in the Gulf Coast League."I didn't want to wait three years" to turn pro, said Pea****, who would've had to do just that had he gone straight to Division I Florida Atlantic.Despite his late-round status, the 23-year-old Pea**** began the 2011 season as one of the top pitching prospects in the Washington system.A 6-foot-1 righty whose fastball has been clocked at 96 mph, he's currently 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his first full season at Double-A Harrisburg. He went 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA in seven starts for the Senators last year following a mid-season promotion from Class A Advanced Potomac."He's doing very well," said Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin, who pitched in the Majors with Pittsburgh. "He's started to find things out on his own. His stuff has never been a question. He has three Major League pitches."Pea**** said he pitches off his fastball, and he also has a changeup and knuckle curve.Last year he led the Washington farm system with 148 strikeouts in 142 innings. He then pitched in the Arizona Fall League and had 17 strikeouts in 12 innings."He has the ability to be creative with his pitches," said Harrisburg catcher Derek Norris. "He has the ability to overpower guys with his fastball."And his secondary pitches?"It can be a lethal combination," said Norris, the top catching prospect in the Nationals system.Pea**** said the year he spent in junior college was huge in his development. He said his fastball topped out at around 88 mph in high school, but after a year at Palm Beach he was hitting 94."From the very first bullpen he threw for us, it was obvious the arm worked fine and he was an excellent athlete," said Kyle Forbes, who was the pitching coach when Pea**** played at Palm Beach and is now the interim head coach. "He was a jewel to work with. Whatever you told him to do, he picked it up very quickly. His desire was off the charts. He is a fierce competitor."
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