I’m not really a scout, but I did have the good fortune to see Stephen Strasburg pitch for the Syracuse Chiefs in Rochester, N.Y., tonight. He absolutely lived up to the hype.
Strasburg touched 99 mph on the park gun a handful of times and worked consistently in the 96-98 range. He made several hitters look silly with his curveball, either freezing them on a pitch that dropped into the strike zone or getting them to swing at a pitch that ended up in the dirt. Throughout the night, he probably hit 15 numbers on the radar gun between 79 and 99.
He did struggle with wildness at times, walking two. In fact, after throwing 24 pitches in the game, he had thrown 12 strikes and 12 balls. He settled down after that, throwing 48 strikes and 20 balls the rest of the way.
The Red Wings managed three hits against the righty phenom (who had allowed just one hit in his first 12 innings in Triple-A), but none of them were hit hard. The first hit was an infield single that third baseman Chris Lambin made a nice bare-handed play on, but Trevor Plouffe beat it out at first. The other two were grounders up the middle.
In fact, the Red Wings only hit two balls hard all night off Strasburg: a line drive right at center fielder Justin Maxwell and a hot shot down the line on which Lambin made a beautiful diving snare.
The report before the game was that Strasburg would throw 90 pitches or go six innings. So when he finished the sixth with nearly 90 pitches, most people in the crowd assumed he was done and gave him a nice hand and a partial ovation. However, he came back out to start the seventh and struck out Danny Valencia (his ninth of the game) before getting lifted for a reliever.
This time he got a much bigger ovation and a loud round of applause, but the applause turned to boos when he didn’t acknowledge the crowd (announced at 12,590) at all.
At any rate, the night confirmed what was already pretty obvious: Strasburg has no business being in the minor leagues. In 18.1 innings at Triple-A, he hasn’t allowed a run, has yielded only four hits and has 22 strikeouts against four walks.