Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Strasburg’

The Savior Has Landed

Stephen Strasburg made his minor league debut on Friday night, starting and pitching into the fourth inning for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.  He allowed two hits, struck out two, walked one, kept the ball on the ground, and was voted the 2010 Rookie of the Year after the game.  (One of those things might not be entirely true.)

Strasburg reached the high 90s with his fastball but “wasn’t missing a lot of bats,” according to a scout contacted by Baseball America.  The formula seemed pretty simple: when he got the ball up in the zone, hitters were able to make decent contact; when he kept it down, he got strikeouts and groundouts.  His secondary pitches, a curve and slider, weren’t super-fantastic, but we have to remember: Strasburg hadn’t seen real live game action since the end of May.  It’s gonna take time to work back into shape.

One more item of interest, courtesy of Baseball America’s scout source:

On a long-term basis, the scout sees Strasburg as “a sort of righthanded Dave Righetti. No doubt he’ll begin his career as a No. 1 starter, but later on I can see him being a power closer.”

I think this is the first I’ve heard anyone suggest that Strasburg might follow the Dennis Eckersley/John Smoltz career plan.

The Strasburg Has Landed

Two weeks after finally signing with Washington, Stephen Strasburg has finally started workouts at the team’s facility in Viera, Florida.  The Washington Times’ Mark Zuckerman was one of a handful of media on-hand to check out the former San Diego State star:

This may have been mundane to the extreme, but it didn’t stop four reporters (including yours truly), two photographers and about two dozen autograph-seekers from invading the festivities. Strasburg was clearly fazed and uncomfortable with all the attention.

“I thought I’d get a little peace out here on the field, but you guys follow me everywhere,” he said later inside the lobby of the Nationals’ minor-league complex, his head down, not even wanting to look any of us in the eyes. “I guess it just goes with the territory. It’s something I’m going to have to learn to deal with. But it’s good to be out here and throwing a baseball again.”

I would’ve thought that he’d get used to dealing with all the attention when he was in college, but when you get down to it, maybe it’s the sort of adjustment that some people just can’t make (I know I couldn’t).

What he has to do, then, is figure out what he can do to minimize distraction and focus on doing his job (as Zuckerman points out, the attention he gets now is nothing compared to what he’ll see when he reaches the majors).  That seems to be nearly as important as maintaining his physical health.

It’s Deadline Day For MLB Draftees – Lots To Do, Lots To Do

As mentioned here the other night, today is the deadline for major league organizations to come to terms with the players they selected in June’s First Year Player Draft.  Call me crazy, but this strikes me as one of the more exciting days of the summer.  According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, thirteen first-rounders remained unsigned as of early this afternoon:

Stephen Strasburg (No. 1, Washington); Dustin Ackley (No. 2, Seattle); Donavan Tate (No. 3, San Diego); Zach Wheeler (No. 6, San Francisco); Jacob Turner (No. 9, Detroit); Tyler Matzek (No. 11, Colorado); Aaron Crow (No. 12, Kansas City); Grant Green (No. 13, Oakland); Matt Purke (No. 14, Texas); Alex White (No. 15, Cleveland); Shelby Miller (No. 19, St. Louis); Kyle Gibson (No. 22, Minnesota); LeVon Washington (No. 30, Tampa Bay).

Most of those are likely to agree to terms before midnight, which means that the next seven hours should be very busy for all parties involved and very interesting for casual observers such as myself.  I plan on following along throughout the night (or trying to, at least) and trying to keep Bus Leagues updated as much as possible.

Rumor has it that Baseball America is tracking all unsigned picks in the first ten rounds.  Unfortunately, Firefox does not seem to like Baseball America (or vice versa), so I’ll have to take Alex Pedicini’s word for it.

Update (5:24 PM): Rangers Blog at the Dallas Morning News  web site reports that Matt Purke has been in town for about a week (he’s preparing to attend Texas Christian University if a deal can’t be worked out with the Rangers) and negotiations are ongoing.  Jeff Wilson compared and contrasted Purke’s situation with that of Justin Smoak:

That’s about on par with the Justin Smoak negotiations from last year. That ended well for both sides. Purke, though, seems to have a genuine fondness for TCU, and the Tom Glavine fan has been given No. 47 for next season.

Via the comments section of Nationals Journal at the Washington Post, Baseball America’s Jim Callis is reporting that Donavan Tate has been seen in San Diego and could be close to signing with the Padres.  (How’s that for hearsay?) Tate is a Scott Boras client and outstanding athlete who held a football/baseball scholarship offer from North Carolina as negotiating leverage.

Update (5:41 PM): Saw this somewhere a little bit ago, maybe in that Mayo column linked above, but it also just came to me from CBS Sports via Baseball Musings.  The Tampa Bay Rays do not expect to sign either their first or second round picks.  As David Pinto said in his post, “Losing out on two picks has to hurt.”

Update (5:56 PM): Via Yahoo’s Kendall Rogers on Twitter (@ysportsncaabb) about 45 minutes ago, Shelby Miller passed up Texas A&M to sign with the Cardinals.  Rogers also reports that the Aggies also lost K.C. Hobson, Butch Hobson’s son and Toronto’s sixth-round selection.

Update (6:04 PM): Maury Brown is tracking the remaining draft picks and their bonuses at The Biz of Baseball.  He started with seventeen names, including three supplemental first rounders, and has updated two: New York’s Slade Heathcott ($2.2 million) and St. Louis’s Shelby Miller ($2.875 million).  Both signings are well over the recommended slot for their draft positions.

It is noted in the comments that Heathcott announced his signing on his Facebook page.

Update (6:49 PM): LeVon Washington’s willingness to sign with the Rays has changed greatly from Draft Day to Deadline Day.

Cleveland isn’t getting anywhere with Alex White.

Update (7:22 PM): Kendall Rogers hears good things about Kyle Gibson’s chances of signing, bad things about Alex White’s.

Update (9:38 PM): Jon Heyman says that the Padres are close to close to a deal with Donavan Tate (via MLB Trade Rumors).  Gammons apparently sees that news and raises him: picks two through ten have agreed to terms.  No attribution beyond that, so take it with a grain of salt.

Update (10:47 PM): Alex White WANTS to sign with Cleveland.  The two sides just haven’t been able to agree on a deal.

Supplemental pick Kentrail Davis signed with the Brewers.

Maury Brown has three players signed – Miller, Heathcott, and Davis – and I’ve seen stuff here and there that says Tate has also reached an agreement.  Just outside one hour to go – this will either be one hell of a finish, or an amazing cluster you-know-what for next year’s draft.

Update (10:57 PM): By the way, I forgot to mention that I totally friended Slade Heathcott on Facebook earlier (me and hundreds of others, no doubt).  So now I have a friend named Slade, which is really all anyone should want out of life.

Update (10:59 PM): RumorsandRants on Twitter – “Padres officially just announced signing of No. 3 overall pick Donavan Tate”

Update (11:06 PM): ysportsncaabb – “The Tigers also have signed first-round pick Jacob Turner, who was committed to play at North Carolina.”

Update (11:12 PM): The folks at USS Mariner are offering to sweeten any prospective deal for Dustin Ackley.  The Nationals would like to do the same for Stephen Strasburg, according to Jon Heyman.  One of those “sweeteners” involves actual money.

Update (11:28 PM): Donavan Tate is officially a Padre.

Update (11:41 PM): Twenty minutes, ten first-rounders still unsigned (or at least unannounced).  Maury Brown noted on Twitter earlier this hour that news of Aaron Crow’s failure to sign last year didn’t emerge until after 1 PM EST.

Update (11:46 PM): Seattle has scheduled a teleconference with general manager Jack Zduriencik for 9:15 Pacific time.  Announcing a deal, Mr. Z?  I’m sure he hopes so.

Via Twitter: Will Carroll, Aaron Gleeman, and Kendall Rogers note that Kyle Gibson has signed with the Twins.

Eleven minutes to the deadline.

Update (11:51 PM): And there goes Zach Wheeler.  Picks three through ten are now official.

Update (12:00 AM): Tracy Ringolsby breaks the news that Tyler Matzek signed with the Rockies.  Supposedly, the Nationals were very close with Strasburg as the deadline approached, still awaiting final word.

Update (12:04 AM): Ackley and Green have signed.  Strasburg might have signed for more than $15 million over four years.  Crow, Purke, White, and Washington are left from the first round.  Of those, Crow has the ability to continue negotiating because he is not eligible to return to college.  Purke will go to TCU, White will either return to North Carolina or hit the independents, and Washington, I believe, was heading to Florida.

Update (12:10 AM): As soon as I wrote that, I flipped back over to Twitter (that’s where all my info is coming from at the moment) and saw that Baseball America’s Jim Callis is reporting that Alex White has signed with the Indians.

Update (12:19 AM): I usually hear nothing but good things about the MLB Network, but what little coverage I’ve seen tonight has dropped the ball.  They “broke” the story of Strasburg’s signing at almost 12:15, nearly ten minutes after I saw repeated mentions of it on Twitter, were very late on the Tyler Matzek signing, and for some reason teased Zach Wheeler’s deal before unveiling it as though it was the biggest signing of the night.

And maybe I’m just biased because I think this whole signing deadline thing is kinda fun, but couldn’t they have devoted more in-studio attention to the deadline as the clock wound down?  Showing the late innings of a meaningless Yankees-A’s game and going to commercial at 11:59?  I expect better.

Update (12:29 PM): Well, that’s all for me.  After seven hours, it’s time to call it a night.  My brain can’t handle all this stress, and I didn’t even do anything – guys like Keith Law and Jon Heyman and the guys from Baseball America, who do this for a living and know everything that’s going on and keep it all straight, they amaze me.

All I know is that everyone that was supposed to sign, did sign.  Matt Purke clearly wanted to attend college (and who can fault him for that?) so Texas was in a tough spot to begin with.  It was obvious early today that LeVon Washington wasn’t going to become a Tampa Bay Ray.  And I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Aaron Crow and the Kansas City Royals before too long.

The Clock Is Ticking…

Two days, ladies and gents.  Two days until we learn the fate of Stephen Strasburg, the first overall pick in June’s amateur draft.

Will he sign a record-breaking deal with the Washington Nationals, the team that drafted him?  Or will he spurn the team’s offer and ply his trade in an independent league while waiting to reenter the draft next year?

Consider this possibility: if the Nationals don’t sign Strasburg before 11:59:59 seconds on Monday night, it will be the second year in a row the team failed to come to terms with its first selection (they selected Aaron Crow with the ninth overall pick in 2008).

There are a couple of silver linings, however: when Crow didn’t sign last year, the Nationals received the tenth pick in this year’s draft as compensation.  With that pick they took Stanford’s Drew Storen, who signed on June 10 and is currently pitching for Double-A Harrisburg.  He has appeared at three levels this season, striking out 38 batters and walking only three in 26.2 innings.  That’s awesome.  I’m guessing we see him in a Natinals uniform before season’s end.

Silver lining number two: if Strasburg doesn’t sign, he goes back into the draft next year and the Nationals receive the second overall pick as compensation.  The 2010 draft features Bryce Harper as the likely first overall pick – if Washington finishes with the worst record in baseball this season, they will once again receive the right to select first, meaning they could hold the first two picks in a draft that features two of the top prospects in recent memory.

Who cares if the Nationals wouldn’t take both players (partly because they couldn’t afford both and partly because I think they would need special permission to draft Strasburg again if they failed to sign him the first time around) – it would make for some fun speculation leading up to draft day, wouldn’t it, and the  ratings for the first round would be through the roof.

It is almost exactly two days until these events are set in motion.  Come Tuesday, Strasburg will either be smiling as he holds up a Nationals jersey in front of the assembled Washington media or Scott Boras will be on all the sports channels explaining exactly why they turned down Washington’s offer and what his client’s next move is.

Stephen Strasburg Was Officially The Best College Player In 2009

Earlier today, Stephen Strasburg was presented with the 2009 Golden Spikes Award “as the nation’s premier amateur player.”  In other news, the sun rose in the East.

The other four finalists were Dustin Ackley, Mike Leake, Kent Matthes, and A.J. Morris.  Strasburg (1), Ackley (2) and Leake (8) were all Top Ten picks in June’s First Year Player Draft.  Last year’s winner, Buster Posey, was drafted by the Giants in 2008 and just earned a promotion from A-Advanced San Jose to AAA Fresno.

Previous winners of the award are listed below.  More information can be found here.

2008: Buster Posey
2007: David Price
2006: Tim Lincecum
2005: Alex Gordon
2004: Jered Weaver
2003: Rickie Weeks
2002: Khalil Greene
2001: Mark Prior
2000: Kip Bouknight
1999: Jason Jennings
1998: Pat Burrell
1997: J.D. Drew
1996: Travis Lee
1995: Mark Kotsay
1994: Jason Varitek
1993: Darren Dreifort
1992: Phil Nevin
1991: Mike Kelly
1990: Alex Fernandez
1989: Ben McDonald
1988: Robin Ventura
1987: Jim Abbott
1986: Mike Loynd
1985: Will Clark
1984: Oddibe McDowell
1983: Dave Magadan
1982: Augie Schmidt
1981: Mike Fuentes
1980: Terry Francona
1979: Tim Wallach
1978: Bob Horner

No Hall of Famers there (with the asterisked exception of Francona, who may well make it as a manager one day), but you could put together a solid lineup from that group. Who knows, maybe I will tomorrow.

Random Thoughts on the Amateur Draft

Just for giggles, I decided to go through the list of players drafted over the last three days and see what came of it.  Lots of interesting names, people, and relationships in there.

1. Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State – If not the most talented amateur player ever, then certainly the most hyped.  For me, however, he’s the most elusive.  I’m going on a road trip later this month with my brother and a couple friends, and it seems that every stop on our trip is someplace that Strasburg could be, at some point – Washington, Harrisburg, Troy (when they play Vermont, Washington’s New York-Penn League affiliate).  Unfortunately for us, he won’t be in any of those places when we are.

12. Kansas City Royals – Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats – The Luke Hochevar Experiment is working out so well that the Royals decided to try it again.  Offhand, I can’t think of very many situations where a player went to the independents for a year and had it work out in the long run.  J.D. Drew is the highest profile name that comes to mind.

45. Arizona Diamondbacks – Mike Belfiore, RHP, Boston College – Austin Wood got most of the publicity, good and bad, from the epic BC-Texas game a couple weeks ago, but Belfiore might have risked more, throwing 129 pitches in an effort to get his team the win.

150. Detroit Tigers – Austin Wood, LHP, Texas – The arm is still attached after throwing 199 pitches in twenty-four hours against Boston College, so that’s a good thing.  He’ll be an interesting one to watch in the future, in part because he clearly needs a manager who will know when to draw the line between guts and craziness.

168. Boston Red Sox – Seth Schwindenhammer, OF, Limestone Community HS (IL) – His name is Schwindenhammer.  The Red Sox should promote him right now.  I can’t wait to do an All-Name Team for this draft.

184. Texas Rangers – Ruben Sierra, OF, San Juan Educational School (PR) – I suspected when I saw this last night that this youngster was related to THE Ruben Sierra, and this impressive article confirmed it.  The sheer number of names included in that piece highlights the nice part about the Amateur Draft: because it is so darn long and so many players are selected, teams can afford to take a flyer on a player for personal reasons (see Mike Piazza for an instance where this worked out quite well for both sides).

306. Arizona Diamondbacks – Tyson Van Winkle, C, Gonzaga – I love it when a player comes with a ready-made nickname.  It just makes our work so much easier.  Welcome, Rip.

318. Boston Red Sox – Brandon Jacobs, OF, Parkville HS (GA) – Another name list that needs to be done: the “Hey, somebody famous already has that name!” list.  We should follow the rules of the Screen Actors Guild: if a pro athlete is already “registered” with a name, no one else can use it.  This young man would probably become Don Jacobs, unless he has a middle initial.

412. Washington Nationals – Naoya Washiya, OF, College of the Desert – College of the Desert?  That sounds badass, and apparently they turn out some decent players.  Washiya has an interesting name and story, as well.

630. Detroit Tigers – Giovanni Soto, LHP, no school (PR) – Same theory as Brandon Jacobs, although Soto probably gets a pass because his name is spelled different than the Cubs catcher.  Still, how cool would it be to see a Soto-on-Soto matchup at some point?

850. Toronto Blue Jays – Zachary Outman, RHP, Saint Louis – This makes me think of the commercials I used to see for “American Pie: Band Camp” where Eugene Levy increduously exclaims, “Another Stiffler?!”  Josh Outman already had one of the best names for a pitcher in major league history; now that there’s two of them, they cannot be stopped.

1098. Boston Red Sox – Michael Yastrzemski, OF, St. John’s Prep HS (MA) – We’ll have to see if this is a favor to a local legend or if Yaz The Younger can hold his own on the ballfield.

1442. Kansas City Royals – Kevin Kuntz, SS, Union HS (OK) – The greatest name in baseball history lives on.

1521. Los Angeles Angels – Alibay Barkley, 1B, George Washington HS (NY) – Mr. Irrelevant, MLB Draft-style.

The Z-Meter: 6/9/2009 – Draft Day Edition

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Daniel Bard: Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) to Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Mat Gamel: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Fernando Martinez: Buffalo Bisons (AAA) to New York Mets (MLB)
Matt Wieters: Norfolk Tides (AAA) to Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) to Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
Andrew McCutchen: Indianapolis Indians (AAA) to Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)

Antonio Bastardo: Reading Phillies (AA) to Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)

Madison Bumgarner: San Jose Giants (A) to Connecticut Defenders (AA)
Yonder Alonso: Sarasota Reds (A) to Carolina Mudcats (AA)

Why an edition of the Z-Meter dedicated to the MLB draft? Several reasons.

  1. Most of the guys on this meter came to us from the MLB first-year player draft. The rest were signed out of shady, desparate third-world baseball academies.
  2. I will be leaving for Omaha on Friday, so I’m forced to meet my obligation of posting once per week earlier than usual.
  3. None of these humps has been promoted this week, so we need a “hook”.

The draft will begin at 6pm tonight. I wonder who will go first????????


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, waiting for the call that will change their lives.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 12 Games – 6W – 3L – 3.18 ERA – 29 BB – 52 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .280 – 38 R – 8 HR – 25 RBI – 50 BB – 0 SB – .505 SLG – .932 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .309 – 45 R – 3 HR – 21 RBI – 13 BB – 22 SB – .436 SLG – .783 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 11 Starts – 1 W – 6 L – 5.14 ERA – 17 BB – 63 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .340 – 31 R – 1 HR – 27 RBI – 22 BB – 11 SB – .453 SLG – .866 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .262 AVG – 29 R – 7 HR – 34 RBI – 25 BB – 0 SB – .441 SLG – .788 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): 11 Starts – 4 W – 4 L – 3.19 ERA – 22 BB – 52 K

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .282 AVG – 37 R – 10 HR – 39 RBI – 39 BB – 0 SB – .546 SLG – .957 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B (injured) – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .325 AVG – 28 R – 6 HR – 25 RBI – 32 BB – 0 SB – .503 SLG – .947 OPS
  
Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .348 AVG – 36 R – 10 HR – 60 RBI – 18 BB – 0 SB – .557 SLG – .948 OPS
 
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 5 Games – 4 Starts – 4 W – 0 L – 1.86 ERA – 8 BB – 29 K
 
 
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 7 Starts – 4 W – 2 L – 3.20 ERA – 6 BB – 38 K
 
 
Yonder Alonso, 1B – Carolina Mudcats (Reds): .219 AVG – 3 R – 0 HR – 3 RBI – 4 BB – o SB – .313 SLG – .618 OPS
 
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 1 Start – 1 W – 0 L – 0.00 ERA – 3 BB – 4 K
 
 

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .252 AVG – 9 R – 9 HR – 24 RBI – 12 BB – 0 SB – .483 SLG – .785 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .273 AVG – 33 R – 7 HR – 36 RBI – 13 BB – 4 SB – .440 SLG – .754 OPS

Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates): .240 AVG – 27 R – 10 HR – 42 RBI – 31 BB – 1 SB – .454 SLG – .792 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .215 AVG – 26 R – 1 HR – 17 RBI – 26 BB – 8 SB – .287 SLG – .607 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .338 AVG – 35 R – 13 HR – 36 RBI – 6 BB – 3 SB – .592 SLG – .970 OPS

Shooter Hunt (injured), RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): 7 Games – 5 Starts – 0 W – 1 L – 10.70 ERA – 33 BB – 18 K

Collin Cowgill, OF – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .279 AVG – 39 R – 6 HR – 33 RBI – 26 BB – 10 SB – .457 SLG – .827 OPS

Mauricio Robles (injured), P – West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers): 10 Starts – 4 W – 3 L – 3.91 ERA – 23 BB – 70 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .297 AVG – 26 R – 3 HR – 31 RBI – 18 BB – 2 SB – .427 SLG – .788 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 11 Games – 10 Starts – 7 W – 2 L – 1 SV – 3.17 ERA – 11 BB – 47 K

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 26 Games – 0 Starts – 1.04 ERA – 3 W – 2 L – 16 SV – 5 BB – 33 K


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 14 Starts – 13 W – 1 L – 1.32 ERA – 19 BB – 195 K

Strasburg and the Aztecs were eliminated from postseason play in their regional. Tonight’s draft will give us the first idea of where he’ll start his Z-Meter career as a pro.

 


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and our trademark irrational sense of whimsy.