Tonight, one of the most hyped rookies in major league history launches his career. Stephen Strasburg makes his big league debut for the Washington Nationals when he takes the ball to pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The attention and interest focused on him is unprecedented. Besides playing in front of a capacity crowd in the nation's capital, the MLB Network will broadcast the game nationally with their "A" team of Bob Costas, Jim Kaat, and John Smoltz calling the action.
After being chosen with the first pick in last year's draft, Strasburg has dazzled in the minors, displaying the dominant stuff that has had the baseball world buzzing since early in his college career. While scouts and baseball pundits drooled over him, the Nats had the courage to select the Scott Boras represented prospect and pony up a record four year, $15.1 million contract.
And, make no mistake, the hulking right-hander looks and acts the part. The 21-year old phenom stands 6'4" tall with a solid 220-pound frame capable of registering triple digits on the radar gun.
Besides his explosive 100-mph fastball, Strasburg possesses a classic, hard-breaking curve ball and a change-up that has already been labeled a "Lincecum" as its deceptiveness rivals that of the signature pitch of the Giants two-time defending Cy Young Award winner. And, importantly, the rookie displays a demeanor and command more typical of an accomplished veteran hurler.