By: Kevin Plaza
Tonight is the night that National fans have been waiting for since last year’s draft. The phenom, possibly the next Nolan Ryan, is coming to town to make his pitching debut. Washington, say hello to your new ace for the next 12-15 years, Stephen Strasburg. The guy can throw 100 mph on his fastball, has one of the best curveballs in the majors, without even throwing it in the majors, and can locate those pitches anywhere he wants. Many writers and experts have already named Strasburg as a once in a lifetime talent that can easily become a Cy Young, Hall of Fame type pitcher. Tonight, he takes the mound for the first time in the majors after ripping through and absolutely dominating the minors to the tune of Ubaldo Jiménez type numbers. With a 7-2 record, an ERA of 1.30 and facing just 65 batters in 55 innings, the guy was just flat out unhittable. So Nationals fans, for the first time since the team came into existence, you have something to be excited about… but save some of that excitement for the guy you just drafted last night in the MLB Draft.
With the first pick in last night’s draft, the Nationals selected Bryce Harper, labeled as the “Next One”, for how he should become the best player to come out of the draft since Alex Rodriguez, and believed by some to be the next Mickey Mantle, yea Mickey Mantle. I mean you can kind of see the resemblance if you look at all the accomplishments Harper has earned throughout his short high school and junior college career.
2010 SWAC Player of the Year.
2009 Baseball America High School Player of the Year
Longest home run in Tropicana Field (502 feet)
2009 Ryan Howard Award (International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby)
2008 1st Team All Sunrise Division Catcher
2008 1st Team All State Catcher
2008 Player of the Year North-East Division
2008 Batting Average Leader for the state of Nevada
2008 All World Team
2008 All Area Code Team
2007 TBS 14u All American Team
2007 TBS 14u Player of the Year
2006 TBS 13u All American Team
2005 TBS 12u All American Team
2005 NYB All American Team
And guess what? He is only 17 years old and he is a catcher.
Call it premature, but if all goes as planned in the next couple of years, the Washington Nationals might have the best battery combo (pitcher-catcher) in the history of professional baseball.