Boras: No. 1 pick 'different breed of cat'

Updated: June 11, 2009, 9:29 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Agent Scott Boras says No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg is "a different breed of cat," worthy of a contract far above those of this year's other draft selections.

Strasburg was chosen Tuesday by the Washington Nationals, who must sign Strasburg by Aug. 15 to retain his rights.

Boras said Wednesday there's a substantial risk in giving big money to 99 percent of the draftees, but he placed the right-hander from San Diego State among the "premium" 1 percent that have a better track record of major league success.

"An extraordinary player receiving a substantial bonus far above other draft picks has happened before ... Obviously Stephen falls into that class of players," Boras said. "They just happen to have that extraordinary ability."

Boras wouldn't give numbers, but he's expected to ask for a package worth several times the value of the current high-water mark of $10.5 million that Mark Prior received in 2001.

The Nationals have already started their counteroffensive, saying they're not going to throw baseball's salary structure out of whack for one player and that the expectations surrounding Strasburg have reached unrealistic proportions.

"He's a tremendous pitching package," Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We weren't going to pass on the best player in the draft."

Both sides say they want to get a deal done, but say they have contingency plans if it doesn't.

"If that does not happen," Boras said, "you then would look to all the available resources one would have to evaluate what the next step is."

For Strasburg, that could mean playing independent ball or going to Japan while he waits for his name to re-enter the pool for next year's draft.

Assuming the contract does get done, Strasburg knows of another hurdle he'll face -- jealously.

"I'm sure there'll be a little hostility," Strasburg said. "I'm sure there'll be a lot of hostility for other first-round draft picks who just signed big contracts. It's something you're just going to have to deal with."

Strasburg leads Division I pitchers with 195 strikeouts in 109 innings this year, and was the only amateur on the U.S. Olympic team that won a bronze medal in Beijing last summer. He struck out 23 in a game against Utah last season and threw a no-hitter with 17 K's against Air Force this year.

Asked about the spotty success rate of No. 1 draft picks over the years, Strasburg said he's not inclined to learn from other people's mistakes.

"I'm sorry, but what would I learn from other top picks?" Strasburg said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters. "Obviously, I watch guys that have made it to the big leagues. I don't plan on being the top pick and then not being successful in the big leagues.

"I obviously want to take my game to the next level and I believe that I've learned how to work hard in college and I hope to carry that over."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.