Strasburg impressed for the Senators on Sunday (Photo by Chris Gardner - US Presswire).
Young Phenom Hits Upper 90s in Five Innings of Work
Altoona, Penn. (Monday, April 12, 2010) – Baseball’s biggest pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg made his debut yesterday for the Harrisburg Senators, scattering four hits and striking out eight in five innings of work. The San Diego native took the decision in the 6-4 win while giving up four runs in the Sunday afternoon affair with the Altoona Curve, including one earned run.
“I was definitely super excited,” Strasburg said after the game. “There was a lot of anticipation for this outing. I knew from the get-go I was moving a little too quickly, but I was able to settle down and keep the team in the ballgame. Lucky enough, our bats came alive and we were able to pull out a W today.”
An over capacity crowd of 7,887 patrons packed into the Blair County Ballpark to catch a glimpse of the number one overall pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, including 69 members of the media. While a buzzing scene like that is something still fresh for Strasburg, he did say that nerves did not come into play when he was on the mound.
“It’s more adrenalin, and you’ve got to harness that,” he stated. “What a great atmosphere. Anytime you pitch in front of a sellout crowd is special. It felt like it was one of the biggest games of my life, even though it was only the fourth game of the season.”
Strasburg consistently hit the upper 90s during the five innings he threw, something that left many of the opposing hitters guessing during their at-bats.
“Anytime you get into the mid-to-upper 90s consistently, it’s tough even for major leaguers to catch up to that,” Curve skipper Matt Walbeck remarked. “The big thing for him is going to be his command and location, being able to repeat his delivery and hit his spots. You can’t teach velocity, though, and with all the stuff that’s been going around him, you can’t help but respect the guy for the way he handles himself. I was really impressed with his composure.”
Strasburg also got it done at the plate yesterday, hitting an RBI double in a three-run fifth inning by Harrisburg.
"I'm going to call (Hall of Famer and Sand Diego State coach Tony) Gwynn up tomorrow and let him have it,” Strasburg joked after the game.
Strasburg started Spring Training with the Nationals and was arguably the most effective pitcher on its staff. In no hurry to rush a player who holds so much hope regarding the future of the organization, Washington opted to send Strasburg to Harrisburg before the season started. No decision has been made yet as to whether Strasburg will make a stop with the Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals’ AAA affiliate, before making his highly anticipated debut in the big leagues.
"Obviously, as a baseball player, you'd like to say that you're playing at the highest level possible,” Strasburg said of his path to MLB. “But right now, there are things that I need to work on, and there are things that I need to improve on, and I'm going to focus on that right now. And hopefully my time comes soon."
Strasburg’s next scheduled start will be his first home appearance at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg on Friday when the Senators host the New Britain Rock Cats at 7:00 p.m. The team’s website still lists tickets as being available for purchase.