Normally, little more than 50 folks show up to watch the Washington Nationals’ first practice at Space Coast Stadium. Yesterday, roughly 150 people were in attendance.
This past Sunday, Florida residents and vacationers flocked to see no one but last June’s No. 1 draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, in action. During the nine-minute session, the former San Diego State right-hander threw 37 pitches, showing off his repertoire of four-seam fastballs, two-seamers, a slider/curveball mix and a changeup. Following his bullpen session, he worked on covering first base and even practiced a little bunting.
Though Strasburg, 21, is expected to at least kick off his rookie season in the minor leagues, speculation still stirs, and manager Jim Riggleman does his best to calm everyone the hell down.
“We’re open-minded,” the skipper said Sunday. “Everybody’s performances will determine where they end up. [Strasburg] could pitch real well down here, but we still may feel like the development process is to be respected.”
Unless of course the Nationals need the flame-thrower, which they will, especially with Jason Marquis and Scott Olsen being the only two pitchers in the rotation with more than two seasons of big league of experience. Also, they both suck pretty bad.
John Lannan has struggled too, but he gets a pass for never ever knowing the joys of run support during his three-year career, all spent with the Nats.
General manager Mike Rizzo is a bit more realistic when discussing Strasburg’s future with the team:
“If he’s the player we think he’s going to be, we feel he’ll have some impact in the major leagues in 2010,” he said of his team’s $15.1 million investment.
Speaking of phenomenal youngsters… College of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper, who dropped out of high school last season and earned his GED to enter next June’s as the No. 1 pick, just hit his third homer of the 2010 season. Man, that kid can crush the ball.
It’s gonna be pretty crazy to see him develop… literally. At 17 years old, he already stands 6 foot 3 inches tall, weighing 205 pounds, and he isn’t even finished with puberty.
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