Strasburg was 7-2 overall after stops in AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse (Photo courtesy of Associated Press).
Phenom Slated to Pitch this Tuesday against Pittsburg Pirates
Washington, D.C. (Sunday, June 6, 2010) – When pitcher Stephen Strasburg takes the mound this Tuesday to make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut, he will have the eyes of the entire baseball world upon him. Those of particular interest in his performance will be the hopeful fans in the nation’s capital, who have become dependent on his young arm to save a franchise which has maintained a steady residence at the bottom of the standings since the city re-entered the game in 2005.
"I feel like I've been ready," Strasburg stated this week. "There's always going to be things to work on, there's always things to get better at. Whatever level I'm pitching at, I'm trying to get better."
Strasburg is a right-handed hurler who throws in the upper 90s, and he rose to the forefront of all MLB scouting reports during his junior year at San Diego State in 2009. During his final season with the Aztecs, he compiled a 13–1 record with a 1.32 ERA. He also struck out 195 hitters in 109 innings and threw a no-hitter against the Air Force Academy in his final home outing of his college career. He then became the obvious first overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft of the Washington Nationals and started this year’s Spring Training with the team, arguable being the team’s most effective pitcher during the preseason. In no hurry to rush him to the big leagues, the Nationals opted to get his feet wet in the minors.
The anticipation surrounding Strasburg’s debut is unlike any that MLB has seen in quite some time, possibly ever. Ken Griffey, Jr, who retired earlier this week, is probably the last player to build this type of momentum, but even he did not see it achieve the level that Strasburg has reached. All the while, he has maintained a professionalism and focus that would leave one to believe that he has not been at all distracted by the excitement.
"Just another ballgame," Strasburg said of his MLB debut. "We've got great fans here in the minors. They probably sold out every game I've pitched. So I've been used to it."
And Strasburg did not disappoint any of the fans who came out to see him during stops at the AA-level Harrisburg Senators and AAA-level Syracuse Chiefs. He boasted a cumulative 7-2 in both places combined, going 3-1 in Harrisburg and 4-1 in Syracuse.
“He’s a right-handed version of Randy Johnson,” former Cy Young winner John Smoltz told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “He’s got that kind of nasty stuff, plus arms, legs and the ball exploding out of his hand.”
Smoltz, along with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat, will be in the broadcast booth for the MLB Network on Tuesday when Strasburg makes his debut.