The Strasburg Watch
San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 16 batters and hit 102 on the gun SEVEN times a week ago today, is scheduled to make his third start of the season this afternoon against the University of San Diego at Cunningham Stadium at 2:00 p.m. (PST).
Strasburg (2-0, 1.46) has punched out 27 batters in 12 1/3 innings thus far. His pitching line stands as follows:
IP H R ER BB SO HR 12.1 8 3 2 3 27 0
The 6-4, 220-pound righthander, who has whiffed 55 percent of the batters faced in his first two outings, made a name for himself last April when he fanned 23 in a one-hit, 1-0 complete-game shutout vs. Utah. He was the only college player named to the Olympic team last summer and threw a one-hitter while striking out 11 over seven innings against Netherlands.
I saw him make his 2009 debut vs. Bethune-Cookman two weeks ago and shared my observations, as well as those from a few scouts I spoke to, in a scouting report published the following day. He K'd 11 batters that afternoon while consistently hitting 96-99 and reportedly touching 100 in the first inning according to a couple of radar guns behind home plate.
The 20-year-old junior followed up that appearance last Thursday night, striking out every hitter in Nevada's starting lineup at least once except first baseman Shaun Kort, who had a single among his three at-bats. Strasburg fanned seven of the first nine batters he faced and struck out the side four times. The 16 K's were the third-highest recorded in Mountain West Conference history. He was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
You can check out his mechanics and stuff in a slo-mo video from the game I witnessed. His pitching motion has been criticized by Driveline Mechanics and others due to the so-called inverted W, a la Mark Prior, John Smoltz, Jeremy Bonderman, Anthony Reyes, A.J. Burnett, and Shaun Marcum. All of these pitchers have experienced major arm injuries at some point in their careers. For the sake of both Strasburg and the Washington Nationals, the team with the No. 1 pick in the June draft, let's hope he can avoid such arm troubles because he is one of the most exciting young prospects in the game, be it the amateur or professional level.
Update: Strasburg strikes out 18 over eight innings in a 5-3 victory over the 11th-ranked University of San Diego. Now 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA, Strasburg allowed two runs in the first three innings before settling down and retiring the next 11 batters in a row, including nine strikeouts. He has now whiffed 45 and allowed only four walks in 20.1 IP.
IP H R ER BB SO HR 8.0 5 2 2 1 18 1