A New Day, Stephen Strasburg – Number 1 Pick

It was destiny. There were few who suggested the Nats may pass on Strasburg but they mostly were trying to add suspense to the biggest no-brainer since Lebron James went first overall to the Cleveland Cav’s in 2003.

The Nationals selected the six foot five righty out of San Diego State and in doing so may have marked a historic day, and perhaps a turning point in Washington Nationals history.

Strasburg comes to Washington after one of the most successful college career’s in history.

As a freshman Strasburg closed for San Diego State. In 25 games he recorded a 2.43 ERA with seven saves. In 37 innings he struck out 47 and walked only 15. This stellar performance from a relatively unknown, low-recruited talent peaked interest, and earned him the number one prospect rating from the New England Collegiate League.

His sophomore year he converted to a starter. In 13 starts he went 8-3 with a miniscule 1.57 ERA. In 97 innings he struck out 133 and walked an impeccable 16 batters. This performance earned him a spot both on the collegiate USA baseball team and the Olympic USA baseball team.

By the time his junior season surfaced he was far and away the top prospect in baseball, just three years after having gone undrafted out of high school. As a junior he went 11-0 with a 1.24 ERA. Strasburg struck out 164 batters in only 87 innings while surrendering only 17 walks.

But while his numbers are superior, what blows scouts away more are his abilities.

stephen_strasburgStrasburg fastball is blazing, often registering between 97-102 MPH throughout the game. What is so devastating about his fastball however isn’t that it is one of the fastest ever, but that it has movement, lots of it. Scouts always say that for every inch a baseball moves it may as well be going another five miles per hour faster because of the amount of time it takes for the batter to adjust.  This is the same reason Mariano Rivera’s 92 MPH fastball is so unhittable.

Strasburg also had the best curve in the draft. Dropping to 82 MPH his curve has huge slurve like movement that will not only keep hitters off balance but also whiffing at it’s deceptive motion.

He throws it from the same arm slot as his fastball and his low 90’s slider, which makes predicting what pitch is coming nearly impossible.

Strasburg also has in his arsenal a Major League ready change up that can be delivered in the high 70’s. It is, however, rarely seen as Strasburg’s primary pitches have been so dominant in college, he hasn’t needed to use it since the Olympics.

For the Nationals winning the most hyped prospect in history is both a blessing and a curse. Strasburg will have unprecedented demands in contract negotiations.

The Nationals can not afford to let Stasburg go unsigned however, he is the future of this team and the MLB.

Is he a guarantee? No, but scouts say baring injuries he is the closest thing to a lock prospect in the history of the game. Expect to see a lot of this guy in 2010.