Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut in Washington D.C. against the Pirates. It was his first start in The Show since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Nationals in last June’s MLB draft — and it went very well.
Strasburg’s repertoire consists of a fastball that tops out at 100 mph and a slider/curveball that drops off the table. The combination worked like a charm in the minor leagues, as Strasburg struck out 65 hitters in just 55 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
And while the hype surrounding the 21-year-old right-hander’s debut was perhaps more than any other pitcher in recent memory, it should be noted that Strasburg is not the only rookie pitcher in 2010 worth mentioning.
In fact, some may argue that he has some catching up to do.
Mike Leake also was drafted in the first round in 2009, eighth overall by the Cincinnati Reds. But unlike Strasburg, Leake became the first pitcher since Jim Abbott of the California Angels in 1989 to go straight from college (Arizona State) to the big leagues.
And yet, amidst the Strasburg buzz, not nearly enough fans have noticed that the 22-year-old Leake is already 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts for the Reds, before Strasburg even threw a pitch in the majors.
Then there’s Jaime Garcia, another rookie who is baffling National League hitters without so much as a glance from the casual baseball fan.
The Cardinals’ left-hander is only 23 years old, but he’s 5-2 with an astounding 1.47 ERA in his first full season in the majors. Opposing hitters are batting just .222 against the Mexican-born southpaw.
In the American League, the Cleveland Indians have a rookie sensation of their own.
Mitch Talbot came over from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason, and the 26 year-old is making a strong push for the AL Rookie of the Year award. The right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.54 ERA, and has seven quality starts (at least six innings with no more than three earned runs) this year.
Last year in Texas, Neftali Feliz impressed scouts everywhere with his blazing fastball and devastating breaking stuff. Now, in Feliz’s official rookie season, he’s recorded 15 saves for the Rangers, while opponents are hitting just .189 against the 22-year-old righty.
So while Strasburg may be the most hyped rookie pitcher in years, he still has a ways to go before he can be considered the best rookie pitcher in 2010.
But striking out 14 is a good start.
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