He is a 6’4″ walking hype machine. Every step. Correction. Every THROW is covered. Analyzed. Dissected. He is the most hyped, talked about, and eagerly awaited Major League Prospect in years.

He has been talked about since before he was drafted. Over a year before, to be slightly less vague. I can remember the end of the ’08 season hearing about him. He has so much hype behind him that when it came to my fantasy baseball draft time he was drafted ahead of known big league commodities and all stars like: Grady Sizemore, Josh Hamilton, and Justin Morneau (no I didn’t get him). His arrival has been anticipated by: Major League Baseball, fantasy geeks, Nationals Fans… probably his parents too. Coincidentally, this past week MLB lost Ken Griffey Jr. who also erupted into the Bigs with similar fan fare and hype. Who is this spiked savant? If you’re like me he needs no introduction, but for everyone else.

He is Stephen Strasburg… and, sorry PIttsburgh, he makes his debut this Tuesday night in Washington DC in front of a sell out crowd.

Strasburg doesn't throw baseballs... they flee in terror.

As has been the case for the past 3 months, and even going back to his days at San Diego State. All Eyes will be on Strasburg.

A little background info. He touches 3 digits on the gun (meaning he throws over a 100 miles an hour). He Has nasty secondary pitches. Hell he probably saves sick puppies in his free time and nurses them back to health. His last Minor League start… let me restate that… his last MINOR. LEAGUE start was aired live on National Television, and then replayed later that same night. I just heard the Fox Saturday baseball broadcast team talking, as if this will be a great piece of trivia, WHO was the last minor leaguer to get a hit off of Stephen.

This isn’t new. In fact all of his starts have been covered by major sports outlets. ESPN, MLB Network, Yahoosports… all have covered the Phenom’s trek through the minor leagues. His numbers are amazing, and I’m sure scouts and guys like Tim Kurkjian or Peter Gammons can break this kid’s stuff and game down to levels that will boggle the mind (mine included). For the record? I am in on the hype. I have been watching. I can’t wait to see how he does.

How in on the hype you may ask? About 6 weeks ago I made a trip to Harrisburg, PA. Strasburg’s first stop in the 2010 baseball campaign. I wanted to see this kid throw. I wanted to be a part of something special. It, like almost all of his minor league starts, was a sell out. I, like damn near everyone in that stadium was there for 1 reason. The 6’4″ missile launcher who can absolutely dominate every 5th day when he takes the mound. Sadly… we got more rain, than baseball that night. (stay tuned for my follow up story “Why I think more Minor League teams need domes”)

And now, 6 weeks, and 65 strikeouts and only 13 walks between AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse later we’re on the precipice of getting to see Stephen Strasburg on a big league team. In a big league stadium. Pitching against a big league team… correction… Pittsburgh Pirates. Sorry again, Pittsburgh, but its true. Tuesday’s debut is more like Stephen was promoted to AAAA, instead of making his Big League debut. Kudos to the Nationals for the timing of when he’s brought up. His first 2-4 starts will not be against the cream of the baseball crop, and will hopefully be a nice way to ease him into his big league career, or at least as much as you can “ease” someone in who will be this covered, analyzed, and deconstructed BEFORE he ever throws a pitch.

So.

Tuesday night, set your Tivo’s. Wednesday morning be prepared to see Sportscenter breaking down his game. If he dazzles people will be gushing. Prognosticators shrieking “we were right” from the highest rooftop they can find. If he struggles people will mutter “bust”, “over hyped”, or “Ben Macdonald” (sorry Orioles fans).

No matter what the outcome this quick trip through the minors has come to an end and we are just days away Hype’s collision with Reality. Where we get to see if Stephen Strasburg is worth the record contract he signed. If he was worth the endless coverage and national attention he’s received since his days at San Diego State. If he can be the man to draw the fans of the DC area to their new ballpark. If he can be the man the Nationals can build a contender around.

I’m excited as hell to see him pitch… I wouldn’t have driven to Harrisburg if I wasn’t… nor would I be typing this… either way Tuesday won’t seal Strasburg’s fate. It isn’t going to be “his story”… but it will be the first step down the path to fame or infamy. Sadly, even if he’s a major leaguer for a decade, with above average numbers, he’ll probably be dubbed a “bust”. Heavy is the tax that comes with this much expectation. Heavy are the expectations of a team, an organization, a city, and a league that loves its phenoms.

His right arm can do other worldly things, but can it carry this weight?

We’ll find out, Tuesday…. or Wednesday… ya know… if it rains.

ps for fantasy baseball owners. If he’s available in your league? Scoop him up, YESTERDAY. You know… cuz I think he’s gonna be awesome.


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