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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.

By Cameron Smith  |  March 27, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: New Pitching Motion Could Solve Injury Woes
Next: Moment of Levity: The Big Picture


The Nats need to step up and make sure they get this kid. The sky appears to be the limit. Worse case scenario they lose a few million dollars on a bust. Its not like they have been breaking the bank the past few years. If they lose out on Crow and Strasburg, people are going to start wonder what direction this team is going.

Posted by: KingJoffeJoffer | March 27, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

dang - they really are designed to break your heart.

Posted by: petey5 | March 27, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Tracee found Mike Marshall's Baseball Reference page?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

None of it means a thing until he gets people out in a Major League uniform.

Posted by: virtueandvice | March 27, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

This guy seems like the real deal. Nats should get this guy unless Boras's asking pricing is too much.

Nats bad luck is this guy tears a rotator the day after they draft him.

Posted by: fearturtle44 | March 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Boras is already claiming to be looking at a contract valued at 50 million dollars. That would be more than a few million dollars worst case scenario. Pitchers drafted #1 overall have mostly busted out so they should be extremely careful.

Posted by: Killerangel81 | March 27, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post, I forgot I couldnt go back and edit if needed.

Given his agent and the fact the Nats didnt sign their top pick last year if they draft this kid they had better be willing to pay. If they fail again that would be extremely damaging to the organization.

I could see a scenario where teams pass on him due to the insane contract demands by Boras until a major market team such as the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, and maybe Angels have their pick and can pay. That would really set baseball up and hopefully somehow find a way to get Boras out of the business.

Posted by: Killerangel81 | March 27, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I bet this ends up costing the Nats $20 mil guaranteed with another $30 mil if he reaches certain performance incentives, giving Boras his coveted $50 mil number, it allows MLB to keep some control over the draft process and slotting of picks, an it will probably cost the Nats closer to $50 mil than $30 mil.

Only question is if he is a hoss who never gets hurt like roger clemens or made of paper like kerry wood.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 27, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Trade down for 3 picks we can afford to sign, or 3 MLB ready players. Too much hype surrounds this kid, and hype drives irrational expectations and insane salary demands.

I hope Rizzo is working the phones.

Posted by: howjensen | March 27, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

First off, the major league players union will not allow this kid to sign for $50 million. This is posturing so he gets a guaranteed $15-20 mill signing bonus. Which the Nats would be foolish not to pay.

Second, correct me if I'm wrong, but picks don't get traded in the MLB draft. If I'm not mistaken, you're not allowed. For the record, I really have no clue what I'm talking about and could be dead wrong on this.

Posted by: kingtutts | March 28, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm starting to wish there was a clear No. 1 overall hitting talent available like Chipper Jones. 40 plus years of history just don't lie.

That said, the Nats gotta draft the guy.

Posted by: ryaneades | March 28, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

@kingtutts, you are correct, @howjensen you are wrong.

"Another major difference between these drafts is that MLB clubs are not permitted to trade a draft pick--they are stuck in that slot and can't trade it away."

Posted by: ryaneades | March 28, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

How is it that Boras is allowed to "adivse" this kid and he still keep his eligibility? Baseball doesn't bring anywhere close to the dollars that football and basketball bring so they are just allowed to work with a different set of rules?
As a fan Boras sickens me so a lot of anger is at him but it is still ridiculous that the NCAA, SDSU and everyone else turns a blind eye and allows that scum to "advise" him.

Posted by: duquette | March 28, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"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."

If you are going to write professionally, please do better than this. First, the phrase you are looking for is "to wit." Second, its use in this sentence is redundant with the preceding "who is." Third, "bar none" is nonsensical when you start by saying "one of the country's best...."

You may think that it doesn't make one whit of difference because this is just a blog post. But, this kind of spelling and construction error is making it into the print edition more often as well.

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan1 | March 30, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

They can't pass up an almost sure franchise pitcher. If you are going to pursue a Texiera for his potential, you surely must go after this pitcher without fail.

Posted by: periculum | March 30, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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