Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | June 1, 2010

Strasburg to Debut June 8th

The time has finally arrived. Last year’s #1 overall pick in the MLB Draft, Stephen Strasburg, has an arrival date to the Washington Nationals of June 8th. Strasburg may be the most celebrated draft pick since Justin Upton and perhaps even as far back as the Joe Mauer/Mark Prior duo (and will be until this year’s draft, when the even more celebrated Bryce Harper will almost certainly be taken by the Nationals who again have the first overall selection), and with the announcement the Nationals are acknowledging that the talk will end and the career will begin. This is really a great time for all baseball fans, so long as their team is not in direct competition with the Nationals, as anytime a new young star enters the league it makes for a stronger league on balance, and we should all hope that he does as well (so long as it doesn’t negative affect our favorite teams) as the talk that has followed him into the league.

Strasburg did not pitch last season and to date his only pro experience has been his performance in the minor leagues this year, which thus far consists of 10 starts and 50 1/3 innings. He will make one more start for the AAA Syracuse Sky Chiefs before moving on to the Nationals. In looking at what to expect from Strasburg, I compare him to the two players who off of the top of my head stand out as the most productive minor league starting pitchers that I can remember — Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander. Perhaps there are others who were as dominant as those two, but I was not cognizant of it as it was happening. Here are what the three pitchers have put up in the minor leagues:

Strasburg matches up favorably with both hurlers.   He’s younger than Verlander or Lincecum were when they were in the minor leagues and he’s also generally performed at a higher level.  Lincecum’s career began at low A and Verlander’s at high A.   Verlander never pitched at AAA, in large part because his ERA in seven starts at AA Erie was 0.29.

In short, the hype appears to be real with Strasburg.  If he can be equivalent to or — Difficult to imagine — Superior to guys like Justin Verlander or Tim Lincecum, then he should be in for a long and exciting career that should play a role in turning around the Nationals franchise.

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