The Obligatory Strasburg Post

Alright, maybe the last post was a bit over the top, but that feeling of relief and excitement is genuine. The Nats got their guy, and now it’s up to him to perform and succeed. He’s got all the tools, between the velocity, the control, the strong secondary pitches, and the mental aspect. At least we think the mental aspect is there, but we’ll see how that, as well as everything else, translates to the majors. Anyway, on to the basic overview of what seems important to me.

The Stats

His final year in college, as you may have heard, Notebook San Diego State Strasburg Baseballwas quite good. It was one of the best by any collegiate pitcher ever, and he went from being the consensus number one pick in September to being one of the greatest prospects in history by the spring.

6′ 4″, 220 lbs, Right Handed Pitcher
15 GS (13 W, 1 L)
109 IP
195 K
65 H
19 BB
16 ER
1.32 ERA
.172 BAA
10.3 K/BB
16.1 K/9

The Contract

Record for a draftee, all that jazz. The Nats paid a little over $15 M, the details are here, and seem reasonable. If he is anywhere near as good as people say, it’s an incredile bargain. As for arbitration, it doesn’t matter. The contract covers 4 years, but normal arbitration schedule is still there. If they want, they can basically be guaranteed to have him under their control until the end of the 2015 season.

By the way, if you think the Nats are cheap and aren’t spending money, the Strasburg situation should allay your fears some. This should help, too.

We don’t have all the signing information for all 50 rounds yet, but we have enough to know that the Nationals have spent more money on bonuses than any team ever has in a single draft… Strasburg’s $7.5 million was a draft record in itself… also paid $1.6 million to No. 10 choice Drew Storen… Washington spent $1,769,500 million on bonuses for its picks in rounds 2-10, despite not signing fifth-rounder Miguel Pena… The Nationals signed 12th-rounder Nathan Karns for $225,000 and 27th-rounder Brandon King for $100,000, bringing the total of their known bonus expenditures to $11,194,500. The Royals established the previous draft record last year, when they spent $11,148,000.

On to the Strasburg Quotes

Back when they drafted him, I put up a few quotes from some of the experts on what they thought of Strasburg. I figured, if you haven’t read it, or want to reread, this is as good a time as any:

Keith Law (3/24/09):

“What you have heard on Stephen Strasburg is true. He is bar none the best college pitching prospect in at least 10 years, and there’s nobody close to him… The stuff is legit. The San Diego State right-hander hit 99 twice on my gun Friday, sat 97-99 through the third inning against Brigham Young and was still touching 98 in the seventh while never dropping below 94. His fastball has hard riding life to his glove side. His slider was a wipeout pitch, 81-84 mph with tilt and depth and a high degree of toxicity to opposing hitters”

Buster Olney (4/22/09):

“I’ve never seen as large a gap between the best player and the others in the draft,” one talent evaluator said. “There are some good players, but there’s nobody close [to Strasburg]”

Keith Law (5/5/09):

“He is certainly the best college or high school pitcher that I’ve ever seen… The current big leaguer who he gets the most comparison to is AJ Burnett… he was 94-98 on my gun, touched 99 twice, which is the hardest I’ve ever seen a starter throw”

Baseball America (Draft Scouting Report):

“His combination of stuff, pitching savvy and command make him a once-in-a-generation phenomenon… His 2009 statistics defy belief for a player competing at the major college level… In his first start of the season, his first six pitches registered 98-99 mph, and he touched 100 and 101 later in the season. Of course, raw velocity is no guarantee of major league success, but Strasburg has much more than that. His hard, slurvy curveball is an 81-82 mph hitter’s nightmare. Not since Tim Lincecum has one hurler had both the best fastball and the best curve in the same draft… Strasburg is the closest to a sure thing that scouts have ever seen. Major league organizations may not see a prospect like Strasburg for another 20 or 30 years”

And my personal favorite:

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus Future Shock (6/5/09):

The Good: He’s arguably the best pitching prospect in draft history, with a perfect frame and solid mechanics to go with an 80 fastball, 70 command, and a 60-65 breaking pitch.
The Bad: There’s no definitive proof that he’s not an android from a faraway planet bent on world destruction.
In A Perfect World He Becomes: The best pitcher in baseball. It’s almost impossible to see him becoming anything less than an All-Star.”

One Final Note

I’m not really sure what else he needs to prove, and the Nats may have found a long term solution here. They should probably just hammer out ther details and get a contract done. “Wait, didn’t Strasburg already hammer out a contract?” you say. Yeah, he did, I’m talking about Mike Rizzo. He seems to be the right choice, and I’m guessing he was the temporary GM just in case these negotiations broke down, so they’d have a fall guy. Well, they didn’t, he handles the media well, he’s well-respected in an organization that really isn’t. It seems like a given that he should be named the GM on an official basis. I understand wanting to do the due diligence and talk to everyone who makes sense for the role, but it seems like he makes the most sense.

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