Nats' Strasburg goes 3 1/3 innings
PHOENIX -- Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint in his Arizona Fall League debut Friday night.
The No. 1 overall selection in the June amateur entry draft faced 11 batters, striking out two. He recorded 10 outs during his 50-pitch outing, throwing 32 strikes, and no runner reached second base.
Strasburg induced a couple of double-play grounders to get out of trouble during his 3 1/3 innings for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in front of 1,138 spectators, including a few dozen scouts.
Strasburg, the Washington Nationals' prized prospect, threw his fastball 32 times, averaging 95 miles per hour. He topped out at 98 mph and reached 97 six other times.
"With his composure and his stuff, there's no reason this kid should not be Washington's Opening Day starter next year," one major league scout said. "He's better than anything they have. There's no reason for him to spend time in the minors."
The Nationals selected Strasburg with the first pick in the draft and signed him on the last day possible in August for a record $15.1 million, just minutes before Strasburg would have been ineligible to play baseball for a major league-affiliated organization. He was 13-1 for San Diego State last season.
Strasburg was not surprised to strike out only two batters, because clubs send their top prospects to participate in the Arizona Fall League. Both strikeouts came on changeups.
"I'm obviously not going to rack up as many strikeouts here," he said. "This was definitely a positive night."
Thomas Neal, also with the Giants, singled to left on an 81 mph off-speed pitch in the third, but Pittsburgh prospect Chase D'Arnaud hit into a double play two pitches later to end the inning.
Jose Tabata, also with the Pirates, singled sharply to center field to lead off the fourth. Brandon Crawford of the Giants grounded weakly to shortstop, but the Desert Dogs were not able to turn two on the play on what ended up being Strasburg's final pitch of the night.
"That's something we worked on at [San Diego] State," Strasburg said. "We'd go to the sinker to try and induce a double play."
Strasburg, who pitched only on Fridays while at San Diego State, is scheduled to take the mound again next Thursday when Phoenix plays at Peoria, Ariz. He will begin getting accustomed to pitching every five days during his time in Arizona. Pitchers are limited to no more than five innings in the Arizona Fall League, which runs through Nov. 21.
"It's a long time to take off," Strasburg said of the layoff, which started when his college career ended in June. "I'm just now getting back to pitching and getting my endurance."
Pedro Gomez is a baseball reporter for ESPN.
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