Mike Rizzo on Stephen Strasburg's promotion
Mike Rizzo held a news conference to discuss Stephen Strasburg's promotion from Class AA Harrisburg to Class AAA Syracuse, where Strasburg will make his debut Friday against the Gwinnett Braves. Here's just about all of what Rizzo had to say, the questions paraphrased:
What's the difference for him facing AAA hitters vs. AA hitters?
There are more experienced players. They have a little bit more pitch selection. They have a little more of an experience level. It's usually a more difficult level of performance. That's the way see him - his next progression is there. He's got things he's taken from Double A he's going to take to Triple A. And he'll take his progression from there.
How much will he pitch Friday?
He is at 85 to 90 pitches or six innings, whichever comes first.
Are there specific things he has to work on?
Certainly. The same things we felt he needed to work on when we broke spring training, except for at a more accelerated level.
Conventional wisdom is he'll be here sometime in June. Is that about right?
That's your wisdom. I never said anything to that effect.
What was his reaction?
I think that he's excited for the new challenge. It's a step in the direction that he wants to be in. Obviously, his confidence level is high. He believes that he can be pitching in the big leagues right now, and that's the confidence level we want him to be at. But he understands we're doing what's best for him and what's best for the franchise and the organization. He's on board with every step.
How's Drew Storen doing so far in Syracuse?
Storen is doing extremely well. His stuff is firmer than it was in Double A. He's already been up to 96 (mph) a couple times, pitching at 94, 95. He's getting a taste for more veteran hitters and coming into situations with more disciplined hitters. It's a good stage for him. It's a good step for him to be developed at that rate.
Any worries about the conditions and temperature in Syracuse?
No. Not really. (Strasburg is) going to have to learn to pitch at all temperatures and all conditions. We can't put him in a cocoon and pitch him only when it's 75 and sunny. He is ultimately going to pitch in Washington, D.C., in the National League East. So he's going to have to get used to the weather. That doesn't come into play very often.
Why now, at this moment, is Strasburg going to Class AAA?
Just because this is part of the process, the developmental process. He's done everything that he can do at the Double A level. Now it's time for him to progress to more veteran hitters with a little bit more sense of the strike zone and to get that type of experience at that level.
Was the plan all along for five starts at AA, or was it flexible?
It was always flexible. There's no definitives. It's about the development of the player and what we see, and how we see him developing and how he progresses in the things that we believe he needs to work on to get better to pitch, ultimately, in this league.
Can you pinpoint what those things are?
Just the things that we've discussed in the past. Control the running game. Field his position. Get comfortable offensively. To get three pitches over the plate against accelerated hitters. Those type of things.
Do want to try to get him off a five-day schedule to prepare him for off days and such?
I think he's going to be regimented. Like any other starter there, he'll be every fifth day, taking the mound and doing his progressions on his off days to prepare for a five-man rotation up here.
He and Storen have been together an awful lot. Is that coincidental? They seem wedded together.
They're certainly not wedded together. Their pitching plans are unique, as are all our developmental plans are for all our pitchers and players. They just happened to be both accelerated type of draft choices from last year's draft. Drew going a little bit before Stras was just a happenstance that we felt - again, Drew did what he had to be ready to pitch at the next level.
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