NCAA Prospect Profile: Stephen Strasburg

Posted on 16. Apr, 2009 by Tarun Joseph in MILB, Prospect Profiles

Not since the likes of Dwight Gooden, Mark Prior and even Felix Hernandez has a prospect arrived with as much hype as Stephen Strasburg. At 6’4, 220 LBS the SD State phenom boasts some of the most impressive statistics from a college player in history. Take his 23 strikeout performance in 2008. Or how about the fact that in 2009 he struck out 88 batters in just over 42 innings generating into an 18.7 K/9 IP over the year. Now how a pitcher produces in college means very little in how much impact he will make in the big leagues, but there is a lot to like here.

Fastball Velocity
For starters Strasburg’s fastball routinely reaches triple digits while topping out on occasion at 102 MPH. What makes Strasburg’s fastball so devastating is the notable amount of movement he gets on such a pitch with late sink. As if it wasn’t hard enough for hitters to hit 100 MPH fastballs. Unlike Tim Lincecum who has to use maximum effort from his body to generate velocity, at 6’4 Strasburg uses his powerful base to produce a smooth fluid pitching motion to conserve effort.

Fastball Command
Various pitchers in the past with triple-digit velocity, such as Joel Zumaya and A.J.Burnett, had control problems early in their careers because of their pitching speed. In contrast the faster Strasburg seems to pitch the better his remarkable command seems to get. In 2007 Strasburg’s WHIP was a miniscule 0.89, dropping in 2008 to 0.79 and finally a microscopic 0.75 this year. By routinely being able to hit the corners with his fastball, Strasburg has the rare luxury of being able to achieve a strike whether it is swung on and missed, or simply watched.

Secondary Pitches
So we’ve established Strasburg has an extraordinary fastball, how about the rest of his stuff? Strasburg features a plus slider that he throws at 93 MPH which at that speed is close to unhittable on a right handed batters. While Strasburg does not have as much control with his slider as he does his fastball, he often uses it as an out pitch for batters awaiting the heat. Strasburg also offers an average changeup that looks above average only because of his fastball while trying to add an ever improving curveball into his repertoire.

Injury Propensity
The biggest concern for Strasburg at this point has to be his possibility for injury. A power pitcher who throws 100 MPH regularly is always at risk to shoulder injuries and forearm stiffness. As of right now Strasburg’s pitching mechanics look tremendous which has probably saved him so far in college but he will need to continue high strength conditioning once he reaches the majors in order to lower his risk for injury.

Big League Predictions
So now onto our big league predictions for Strasburg. Even though Strasburg, represented by Scott Boras, is reportedly asking for a signing bonus of upwards to 30 million dollars Washington would be flat out silly not to try and work out a deal. For all their bad luck in their previous drafts the Nationals have stumbled upon a sure-fire No.1 Pick and perhaps one of the most impressive prospects in recent memory. In my opinion Strasburg would be better suited to lower the velocity on his fastball to 96-98 MPH in order to create more movement and continue to lower his injury risk. This would also give him the chance to gain confidence in his secondary pitches as his career progresses. Another factor that could play into Strasburg’s major league performance is his mental fortitude. Will he feel the pressure of being a no. 1 Draft pick? Will he mentally break down in a losing environment such as Washington? The way it looks right now the only person that can stop Stephen Strasburg from true greatness is Stephen Strasburg.

ETA: 2011 if Washington is smart, but 2010 is a great possibility
Place in rotation: A true ace in every sense of the word, a difference maker and perennial All-Star
Major League Stats: From 2011 onwards expect seasonal averages of: 13+ wins, 5 + CG, Sub 3.00 ERA and minimum 150 Strikeouts
Fantasy Advice: If Strasburg gets called up to pitch in September picking him up in Keeper Leagues (AL/NL or Mixed) will be like buying Microsoft stock in the early 90’s.
Risky Prediction: By 2020 Strasburg will break the single game strikeout record of 20 currently held by Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens

Tarun Joseph

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8 Responses to “NCAA Prospect Profile: Stephen Strasburg”

  1. Tarun

    23. Apr, 2009


    Thanks for the heads up about Grant Green. From what I read I would consider him more all round then Longoria though the power projects to be similar. Once the position primer Series is finished I will take a look into a prospect profile on Green, who some consider as the Strasburg alternative

    Reply to this comment
  2. Diceman

    21. Apr, 2009

    Love to see a prospect profile on Grant Green the up and coming ss out of USC. Is he the next Longoria??

    Reply to this comment
  3. Michael

    19. Apr, 2009

    The Nationals are in a no-win situation here. The economic realities of today mean that they are reluctant to shell out the kind of money Strasburg (really Boras) is demanding but at the same time they can’t fill their park without a superstar. His signing will set the bar for all high draft pick pitchers.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Drew

    18. Apr, 2009

    This is an awesome article! Great section, great advice…
    Let’s hope we see some more from this writer…

    Reply to this comment
  5. Tarun

    16. Apr, 2009

    Once he gets drafted in June my guess is he shoots up the minor league levels and gets a September Call-up to the big league once the rosters expand

    Reply to this comment
  6. Geoff

    16. Apr, 2009

    30 million I have seen some stories where Boras will want 50 million, the Nats are lucky they have deep pockets bc most teams with a #1 pick wouldnt be able to pay this guy

    Reply to this comment
  7. Diceman

    16. Apr, 2009

    Great insight. This guy is going to be a monster. Saw a special on him on ESPN. One question-How can he get called up in September if he has not been drafted?

    Love this new minor league prospect section

    Reply to this comment
  8. Peli

    16. Apr, 2009

    Great article! Real excited to see this guy tear up the record books

    Reply to this comment

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