This article originally appeared on Examiner.com
From a pudgy underachiever in high school, to being initially rejected by Tony Gwynn for a scholarship offer, to a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and being touted as the potential No. 1 draft pick in this year's amateur draft; it's been a wild and relatively quick ride for San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg to the top.
Now, Strasburg-mania has spread faster and farther through the nation than swine flu, and as Stephen departs Montezuma Mesa, it would more than fitting to look back and chronicle some of the pitcher's greatest moments:
- His sophomore year. Strasburg's breakout season after performing as the Aztec closer in his freshman season resulted in his selection as MWC Pitcher of the Year and recognition as an All-American. His stat line: 8-3, 1.57 ERA, 133 K, 4 CG.
- 23 K vs. Utah. In that very same sophomore season, Strasburg made headlines by setting down 23 University of Utah batters via strikeouts. Of Strasburg's performance, SDSU head baseball coach Tony Gwynn said: "I don't think you'll ever see that again."
- No-hitter in his last home game. Capping off a great junior season that cemented his reputation as the nation's top collegiate prospect, Strasburg was two walks removed from a potential perfect game against Air Force. Striking out 17 batters and retiring his first six and his last 12, the SDSU pitcher exited Tony Gwynn Stadium for the last time throwing a no-hitter in front of a record crowd.
- Podium and a medal in Beijing. After holding the Netherlands to one hit over seven innings in his first start, Strasburg and the U.S. Olympic Team (of which Stephen was the only collegiate player) finished their run at the 2008 Olympic Games by bringing home a bronze medal. Strasburg went 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in the Olympics.
- His junior year. A 13-1 record with a 1.32 ERA and 195 K was good enough for the Mountain West Conference to award Strasburg their Pitcher of the Year Award for the second consecutive season. Stephen led State to the NCAA regionals, putting the Aztecs in the postseason. His performance was widely credited with putting SDSU in the spotlight.
Tomorrow, Strasburg is expected to become a member of the Washington Nationals and command a contract of around $50 million, thanks to super-agent Scott Boras.
And then, a new ride begins.
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