Washington Nationals' team President Stan Kasten appeared on The LaVar Arrington with Chad Dukes Show Monday afternoon to talk about the Nats' big week with the selection of College of Southern Nevada catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper no.1 overall in the 2010 Draft and the debut of the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg Tuesday night in Nationals Park against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. Asked by Mr. Dukes what it's like going back into negotiations with super agent Scott Boras, Mr. Kasten responded by saying, "First of all, Scott is my man, we've been doing this dance for years and years. Here's what I think about it, there's no argument that he can give that's going to persuade me of anything, there's no argument I can give him that will persuade him of anything, we just have to do what we do and we'll get there at the end. I have been saying this about Scott in the last few days and I think it's worth repeating and write it down cause you may not hear me say it very often...":
Stan Kasten: "Last year, when [Scott Boras] was talking about Strasburg, he was not exaggerating. How 'bout that?"
Signed out of San Diego State University, the now-21-year-old Strasburg finished the 2009 season (13-1) with a 1.32 ERA, allowing 59 hits, 16 ER, 19 walks (1.57 BB/9), and ringing up a ridiculous 195 K's (16.10 K/9) in 109 innings pitched, was drafted no.1 by the Nats and then took the summer off while Mr. Boras and the Nats worked out a 4-year/$15.1 million dollar major league deal that finally brought the flame-throwing right-hander into the Nationals' system, where the dominance continued.
In the Arizona Fall League, which was not known as a pitcher-friendly league until the last two seasons when Atlanta Braves' right-hander Tommy Hanson and then Stephen Strasburg were the talk of the league, the future Nats' ace threw for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, compiling a (4-1) record in 5 starts over which the 6'4'', 220lb right-hander was (4-1), with a 4.26 ERA in 19.0 IP, surrendering 15 hits, 10 runs (9 earned), 3 HR's and 7 BB (3.32 BB/9), while collecting 23 K's (10.89 K/9), and posting a 1.16 WHIP.
Strasburg made 3 starts in Spring Training, in which he was (1-0), with 2.00 ERA in 3 GS and 9.0 IP giving up 8 hits, 2 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, with 12 K's, and was good enough that he was a little surprised, reportedly, that he was actually sent to the Minor Leauges, telling Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore at the time, as quoted in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen to start in Class AA Harrisburg", that he, "...felt like I had an opportunity, a chance to make the majors out of camp,":
"'There's always that thought in my head. Everybody is competing for a job here. I felt like I was included, but you know, it's all good. I'm going to go down to Harrisburg and learn what I need to learn and be ready to be called up, hopefully soon.'"
Strasburg was once again dominant at Double-AA Harrisburg, where under a crush of reporters, who followed the young pitcher from start to start documenting every pitch he threw, Strasburg was able to succeed, going (3-1) in 5 starts and 22.0 IP, and giving up 7 hits, 9 runs (4 earned) and 6 BB (2.45 BB/9) with 27 K's (11.05 K/9), 1.64 ERA, and 0.86 WHIP. In Triple-A Syracuse Strasburg was (4-1) in 6 starts with a 1.08 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 7 walks (1.89 BB/9) allowed and 38 K's (10.26 K/9) in 33.1 innings pitched, after which he got the call.
Back on The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes, the Nats' team President Mr. Kasten said that the pressure and the hype of his quick rise through the system hasn't affected the team's top prospect, "It's not fazing him," Mr. Kasten explained, "...not in any way I can tell. Everywhere he goes he performs superbly, everywhere he goes he's really respected by his teammates because he makes sure that he is one of them, and takes great pains to not get any special treatments anywhere he goes, so that's all I can tell you, I know how he performs on the mound, I know how his teammates feel about him, and that's a pretty good combination,":
"He's used his skills and his maturity off the field to become a terrific teammate. I'd say he's handling this...now remember, no one's ever been through this before and I mean that seriously, no one has ever entered baseball with this kind of hype and this kind of attention, and yet here he is performing beautifully, feet on the ground, I'd say he's handled it about as well as anyone ever could."
Tonight at 7:00 pm EST, the entirety of NatsTown finally gets their reward for suffering through the 102-loss 2008 campaign with the Nats, a day after the team drafted another once-in-a-generation prospect in Bryce Harper as the reward for last season's dismal results. Just about every seat in Nationals Park is sold out. The game is being televised nationally on the MLB Network. As of last count over 200 press passes had been issued. All the hype that's gone before will pale in comparison to what Stephen Strasburg experiences tonight, but the difference will be that now NatsTown is a part of it. Stephen Strasburg has arrived.