Stephen Strasburg, consensus top player in the June draft, was clocked at a new high in his last game – 102 mph. While impressive, that's not the outstanding part. This is – he did it seven times.
Let's indulge the skeptics for a moment. First, the San Diego Union-Tribune article doesn't say if the reporter actually saw the radar gun or who exactly told him that Strasburg was throwing as fast as Level 2 hurricane. (A scout? More than one?) And with the general uncertainty of radar guns, perhaps 102 is a stretch.
However – and this a BIG however – scouts clocked Strasburg at 101 last year, and even being in the neighborhood of 100 is obviously something special, and to do it consistently is even more special, so it really is beside the point to ponder if he actually hit 102 seven times. Close enough.
Seattle Times baseball writer Larry Stone muses in his blog, which is where I ran across this nugget (and which, by the way, is a baseball blog much worth reading – check out his discussion of equivalent baserunning runs statistics) about the Mariners' season-ending three-game sweep last year dashing their chance to draft Strasburg. Washington ended up with the pick, finishing 1.5 games behind the Mariners. The Padres were right there too, just 3.5 games out of last place.
The Mariners finished the season against the A's, while the Padres played the Pirates. So, maybe the Mariners and Padres should have tanked those games (it's not like the outcomes had anything to do with a pennant race), but the integrity of the game matters – you don't want to end up like the NBA where everyone knows your tanking. (Or maybe that really doesn't matter – think of that rotation in a few years: Felix Hernandez, Strasburg, Brandon Morrow and 2007 first-round pick Phillippe Aumont. All strikeout pitchers who throw in the mid-to-high 90s. Yikes.)
So, now two questions: 1) will Jim Bowden's resignation as the Nationals GM impact the team's draft strategy? And 2) will Scott Boras, Strasburg's agent, demand so much cash that in this economy it scares off the Nationals? I'd say, 1) no and 2) maybe.