The most hyped baseball prospect since 2002, Washington Nationals star pitcher Stephen Strasburg just took one step closer to his major league debut on Friday, getting promoted to triple-A Syracuse on Friday.
Strasburg didn't disappoint, earning a win after pitching six scoreless innings, and notching six strikeouts to just one walk. His debut was so highly anticipated that the Chiefs, previously averaging 3,915 fans per game, sold out well beyond capacity, squeezing 13,766 fans into the 11,000-seat Alliance Bank Stadium.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound future ace brought nearly 10,000 more fans to a minor league game because he was pitching, and Syracuse-area baseball fans better not put off going to see him in person. The 21-year old right hander is expected to make five or six starts for the Chiefs before getting called up to the Nationals' major league roster.
Strasburg cruised through double-A ball in Harrisburg, finishing with a 3-1 record and a 1.64 ERA in five starts. In 22 innings pitched, he threw 27 strikeouts and six walks.
Most impressively, according to The Washington Post, he "appeared to simply outclass opposing hitters in Harrisburg -- failing to give up a single hit against his curve ball."
He faces similar hype to another San Diego, California product: Mark Prior, who the Chicago Cubs selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 MLB Draft.
Prior signed a then-record $10.5 million contract, broken in 2009 when Strasburg signed a $15.1 million contract with Washington. In Prior's second year as a pro, he finished third in the National League's Cy Young Award vote, but missed three starts due to an injury he sustained after an on-the-field collision. Prior spent time on the disabled list almost every year from 2003 to 2008, and never regained the form that made him the most coveted prospect in baseball at one time.
Strasburg, Baseball America's No. 1 overall prospect in 2010, has no history of injury, and with the Nationals at 18-15 (2nd in the NL East), there has never been a more promising future for Washington's baseball team.