Today, #1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg makes his spring training debut for the Washington Nationals. The young pitcher out of San Diego State hasn’t even thrown a pitch in the majors, but has already been compared to Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden. He signed the biggest rookie contract ever last July for $15 million with only seconds left before the deadline. A quick google search produces more hits for him than Ryan Zimmerman, the current all star player/captain on the team. The Nat’s website already has his jersey on sale for $260. CBS Evening News even ran a piece on him last week.
Unfortunately, the Nationals need all the pub they can get. Since moving from Montreal, the Nat’s have a 343-466 (.424 %) in five years, including back to back 100 loss seasons. They are already on their third manager, second general manager, and couldn’t sign their first round draft pick in 2008. The owners had trouble paying their rent and couldn’t even spell the name on the jersey correctly. Now all the hope is on the shoulders of a 21 year old in a position that history has not been kind to. From 1990-2002, five pitchers have been drafted #1 overall, none of which made an all-star team, and one never even made the majors.
Now management needs to balance the progress of their prospect with the fan demand to see the phenom. Overworking his young arm can cause injury and ruin a pitcher’s career, while attendance drops waiting for his 100 mile per hour pitching display.
At least the Nationals have first dibs on this guy in June.