You may not know him. Most people don’t, so you’re not the minority. The only people that know him are anyone close to the San Diego State Aztecs and people who cover baseball. He is not a household name, but he soon will be. Very soon. Sooner than most realize. He is the best. He is Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg is a starting pitcher for the San Diego State Aztecs, and has been since 2007. He is built like a rock; the prototypical frame for a star SP entering the big leagues. He resembles a beast, standing 6’4” and 225 pounds on the mound.
He is 20 years old and has already been selected to an Olympic team. Stephen will be a junior for the Aztecs this coming fall, and was 8-3 with a 1.55 ERA and 134 SOs in only 93 innings pitched. On April 11th, he stuck out 23 University of Utah batters. So far this season, Strasburg has pitched 21 innings, and he already has 45 strikeouts. Out of the 60+ outs he has recorded, a whopping 45 of them were on Ks.
You know the team that has shocked the baseball world in the World Baseball Classic this year? Yeah, you know them as the Netherlands. Well, when in Beijing, Strasburg one-hit the Dutch over seven innings of work – striking out five of the first six batters he faced. He would have pitched the entire game if it wasn’t for two rain delays that consumed a total of 90 minutes, and eventually cancelled the game. Granted it is the Netherlands, but after that game their players described the pitcher as having the best “stuff” they had ever seen. In the Olympics as a whole, Strasburg logged a 1-1 record with a 1.64 ERA.
The dude is being recognized as the best MLB prospect to ever play the game. E-V-E-R. What about Mark Prior, you ask? Who was dominant with Southern Cal. His length, his long arms, his rock-solid mechanics… All are things that scouts look at, and Prior had them. Is Strasburg better than the all noble Mark Prior?? Apparently.
In an interview with Buster Olney of ESPN, a “longtime scout” explains how good Strasburg may be.
Onley: So just how good is Stephen Strasburg?
Scout: The best I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even close.
Onley: C’mon, better than Mark Prior?
Scout: Easily. I’m telling you, it’s not even close.
Onley: What do you see in him?
Scout: The day that I saw him pitch, his first fastball was 99 mph, and he was at 100-103 mph the rest of the way.
Onley: I heard he had a good fastball, but it’s straight as a string, right?
Scout: That's the thing: Whenever you see a fastball at 100 mph, it's always straight. No movement. But his fastball has a lot of movement, which really doesn't make that much sense, because it's on the hitter so quickly. His fastball cuts.
Onley: Wow. His secondary stuff must be a work in progress then, because that is the way it is with all guys that are overpowering at that age.
Scout: No. He's got a plus slider, at 93-94 mph, and he's got a plus changeup. Again, he's the best I've ever seen.
Onley: And how are the mechanics..?
Scout: They are absolutely fine. They look totally fine to me. No real concerns.
Scout: It's like watching someone play one of those baseball video games for the first time -- it's like the hitters are completely guessing where he's going to throw the ball. They're just swinging in a spot and hoping that's where he throws it, because they can't track it at all.
Onley: The way you are describing him, he is somebody that may be in the big leagues by the end of the summer?
Scout: [laughs] You could put him in a rotation right now, and he could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. Right now, he's better than A.J. Burnett.
You got it right. A guy that isn’t even in the MLB has been said to be better than the guy the Yankees paid 86 million dollars to pitch for them. In other words, the ace of the San Diego Aztecs, is better than the No. 2 free agent pitcher in this past offseason, and could be the ace of the Washington Nationals before the ’09 season is through.
That is of course if the Nationals take Strasburg. However, I don’t know why they wouldn’t. The Nationals suck. They are meaningless. I went to DC this past summer and saw more Texas Rangers’ hats than I did Nationals’ attire. Not to mention, nobody in the league needs pitching more than the Nats do. There is one problem though. Do you remember the whole Manny ordeal and not getting enough money? Manny’s agent is Sir Scott Boras, and Boras is KNOWN to pull that kind of thing all the time. Stephen Strasburg’s agent is Boras as well. Fantastic for the prodigy pitcher, but not so good for DC.
If the Nationals decided to pass on the freak, he would then land in the hands of the Seattle Mariners. They would almost have to take him considering the Lincecum situation and the M’s passing on home-grown Timmy on draft day – by the way, Lincecum is the top pitcher in the game today. With the addition of Strasburg, Seattle’s rotation would highlight Felix Hernandez, Brandon Morrow, and The Greatest Pitching Prospect Ever.
Most teams shy away from taking top pitching prospects in every year’s draft due to the risk (i.e. Mark Prior). But there is nobody at the college level that is even comparable to Stephen. He is the best talent we have seen in many drafts, and in the mind of some, the best talent we have seen ever. He is on his way to the big leagues, no doubt, and if somebody meets Boras’ asking price, we may see him by August.
This is the only time I have ever been upset at my team winning nearly 90 games.