Stephen Strasburg Should Spend No Time in the Minors

Joseph DelGrippoAnalyst IMay 11, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA- APRIL 3:  Starting Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the San Diego State Aztecs throws from the mound against the UC Davis Aggies during their game on April 3, 2009 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

In Division 1 college baseball, the conference games are usually on the weekends. One team travels to the other where they play a three game set beginning Friday night and ending Sunday. The best part of the weekend, especially when there are two top teams playing together is usually Friday night, when each team ace takes the mound.

Air Force traveled to San Diego State this weekend and faced the consensus No. 1 overall pick in this June's draft Stephen Strasburg last night. The results weren't good for the Falcon's batting averages.

Strasburg pitched a no-hitter, striking out 17 while walking only two. Reports had Strasburg hitting 101 MPH on the radar gun and was consistently in the 98-99 MPH range the entire game. He struck out the side in the 9th inning.

Strasburg has dominated the opposition this season with an 11-0 record, 1.24 ERA, allowing 48 hits and only 17 walks while striking out 167 in 87.1 innings. His control is impeccable as he allowed only 16 walks last season. I guess if you want to pick a negative, Strasburg is walking a ton more hitters this season than last year.

Despite not being widely regarded coming out of high school because of poor conditioning and a terrible mental makeup for pitching, he enrolled at San Diego State.

His coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, knows Strasburg's future and "doesn't want him to leave his arm here (at SDSU)." Gwynn has limited Strasburg to one start per week and only 115 pitches per start.  

Strasburg WILL be the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Nationals, and since his "adviser" is Scott Boras, Strasburg will command a huge price and, despite tough negotiations, will sign just before the deadline of August 15.

Since he will probably be throwing bullpens every couple of days, Strasburg should skip the minor leagues and go straight to the Nationals starting rotation in September. Why would their be a need to have him pitch in the minors?

With the huge amount of cash spent on the top pick this year, the Nationals should want to see how their new player fares against the big boys. That's what I would do.

They can do that because of Gwynn's tempering of Strasburg's workload. There is some talk about Strasburg's mechanics being too faulty and that he is ripe for a serious injury down the road

But the Nationals do not have the luxury of worrying about what if's, they need to get the best draft eligible pitcher maybe ever and see what he can do.

Quite a few teams passed on Tim Lincecum in the 2006 due to the same worries, and except for the Rays who picked Evan Longoria, pretty much most of them would like to now redo that draft.

The Nationals will use that couple weeks in between the official signing and September 1 to prep Strasburg for the majors, then in the first week of September, Strasburg will take the mound in the major leagues. 

What the Nationals SHOULD NOT DO is to try to redo some of those mechanics, Strasburg's velocity will drop, his control and command will suffer and his ability to get out hitters will decline.

Strasburg's current mechanics, however troublesome they may be, are what has made him that special pitcher. Any attempt to baby him will lessen his ability to dominate.

Let him pitch the way he has, for as long as he can and the Nationals should ride their horse the entire race—whenever it may end.

The race should begin September 8 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.


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