Highlights of Strasburg Highlights

It seems that, despite the playoffs currently going full steam ahead, people are still interested in young Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. He started his first game in the Arizona Fall League, and here are a few articles talking about his awesomeness, with highlights of these highlights.

From ESPN:

Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint in his Arizona Fall League debut Friday night. The No. 1 overall selection in the June amateur entry draft faced 11 batters, striking out two. He recorded 10 outs during his 50-pitch outing, throwing 32 strikes, and no runner reached second base.

[He] threw his fastball 32 times, averaging 95 miles per hour. He topped out at 98 mph and reached 97 six other times.

“With his composure and his stuff, there’s no reason this kid should not be Washington’s Opening Day starter next year,” one major league scout said. “He’s better than anything they have. There’s no reason for him to spend time in the minors.”

The National’s Journal:

Strasburg’s final line from Friday night: 3-1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 50 pitches, 32 strikes. He hit 99 mph with his first pitch, and picked up the win on account of the generous AFL scoring rules.

mlb.com get a quote:

“It was a great feeling,” said Strasburg, the 21-year-old right-hander and San Diego native who’s slated to make his second start next Thursday afternoon at Peoria, against the Javelinas. “It was great to have a lot of my family come in from San Diego to watch this. It’s been a long time since they were able to watch me pitch. This was the first time for me to be pitching in an actual [pro] game. I was extremely excited to be out there, and I can’t wait to get out there and do it again.”

The Washington Times:

Strasburg hit 99 with his first pitch against Scottsdale and 99 again with pitch No. 46 before leaving one batter later, after his pitch count reached 50.

Although he relied on his fastball, Strasburg also showed command of his change-up and what the Nationals are calling a hard breaking ball, a curve-slider combination in the 83-84 mph range.

ESPN’s AFL Blog

I read that Strasburg didn’t have a changeup, or had two separate breaking balls. However, both Strasburg and his pitching coach will tell you that he throws both four and two-seam fastballs, one breaking ball that scouts call a curveball because of the break (although Strasburg grips it like a slider and calls it one, though he did refer to it as a curve earlier in his career), and a changeup. I can understand that his stuff might be difficult to classify, and as long as batters remain troubled by it, call it whatever you want, but that’s what it is.

Strasburg worked 3 1/3 innings before hitting his pitch-count limit and was never in any trouble. Overall, he was a slight notch below what I saw in a spring outing at San Diego State, but that’s understandable given he had pitched just five innings since his college season ended. He was still head and shoulders above any other pitching prospect.

As expected, Strasburg busted out the 88-91 mph changeup he rarely used as an amateur. Not only was it impressive, he used it as an out pitch in the first inning, getting both his strikeouts on changes with good tumble. He showed off a heavy two-seam fastball at 90-94 mph to go with the four-seamer, and his 82-84 mph slider was a solid 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale on this night, though I’ve seen it even better.

I already had Strasburg in my top 50 among starting pitchers for next season, ranked No. 1 on my list of rookies with 2009 impact, and I saw no reason to change that opinion Friday. It would shock me if he were not in the Nationals’ opening day rotation.

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