The Latest Stephen Strasburg Superhype
We call this legitimate because it's a piece written by Lee Jenkins who is, to whit, one of the country's best baseball writers, bar none. His pieces are nearly always penned with a distinct voice and authority and, first and foremost, accuracy.
That being said, he's about ready to jump on the Stephen Strasbug: Baseball Jesus Express himself, too. And like Buster Olney and others before him -- including this piece which Tracee found this week, which makes Strasburg sound like Josh Beckett -- Jenkins comes armed with some powerful quotes from scouts attesting to Strasburg's readiness and potential greatness.
This passage speaks directly to what those scouts saw:
Over a 40-year career a major league scout of amateur talent will raise his radar gun perhaps a million times at high school and college games. And almost every time only two digits will pop up on his screen. So in the rare instance when he sees a third digit, it is like witnessing the elusive green flash that follows a perfect sunset. After Strasburg touched 101 in the first inning against UNLV, scouts behind home plate reacted with a torrent of hyperbole. Or was it hyperbole? "I've never seen anyone like him," said one. "He's a once-in-a-lifetime talent." "He doesn't need the minor leagues," added another. "He's ready for the majors right now." "The only pitcher I could even compare him to is Roger Clemens in his heyday," offered a third. "This is something you have to see to believe."
The most interesting aspect of Jenkins' piece, however, is how it portrays Strasburg himself. According to Jenkins, he's perfectly happy being one of the guys at San Diego State. He runs out infield grounders and almost injured his hamstring -- despite refusing to take out an insurance policy on his body -- breaking up a double play. He helps with field work after games. And, amazingly, he claims to have given scouts who saw him in high school the following advice: "I told scouts not to draft me. I wasn't ready."
That's gutsy, and when combined with the transformation he put his body through, it paints the picture of a young pitcher who could both jump into major league play his first season in the pros, or spend a year or two in the minor leagues, depending on what the organization that drafted him decides.
All of those positive traits may be tested by the influence of Scott Boras, who is his advisor. Then again, they may not. Millions of dollars present a different type of challenge for immense talent, even if its talent that came with work and the grounding that comes from playing at under the radar stops like Torrington (Conn.) of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Now, if he can handle the growing pains that will inevitably come sooner or later in the majors, Strasburg could really become the pitcher everyone thinks he already is.
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