Monday, April 19, 2010
Scouting Trip #2: New Britan Rock Cats at Harrisburg Senators
Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA is home to the Harrisburg Senators. A regular to the ballpark mentioned to a friend of mine that they usually have about 1,000 people at the stadium for any home game. On Friday night, they had almost 8,000. The stadium was ill prepared and they were running out of food, napkins and electricity (stadium suffered a power surge just before first pitch and totally blacked out). Why? Stephen Strasburg was pitching. I was there.
While my pilgrimage to Pennsylvania's capitol city was so tumultuous and eventful that it would make Odysseus blush, I'm just going to give my report on the much talked about right-hander.
Strasburg's fastball is great. Hitters who offered at the pitch either swung and missed or popped up. The lack of a radar gun at the stadium (seriously, people its 2010, get a radar gun) limits my ability to ascertain a few things. For starters, I can only rely on what was published to know his velocity. Scouts in the newspapers said his fastball was mostly at 98mph. With the naked eye it looked like he was adding and subtracting from it at times. My seats were not condusive of noticing things like armside run.
His Curveball is his best pitch right now. Sitting in the mid eighties, it breaks down and away from right handed hitters. He throws it for strikes and can bury it in two strike counts to get swings and misses.
The changeup is a work in progess. It since in the high eighties and low nineties and it seems like he overthrows it sometimes. When he overthrows it it lacks a pronounced fade/drop towards the end of its flight. It flashed once or twice as a truly plus pitch.
Due to rain, Strasburg only threw 2.1 innings and so I did not get to see other nuances of his game. How well does he hold runners? Does he throw strikes from the stretch? How does he deal with adversity? How often does he shake off the catcher? These are all tings I want to get to know about Stephen Strasburg. I will try to go out and see him again soon.
For now, he reminds me of a right handed Randy Johnson. Dominant fastball and a dominant and powerful breaking ball (though, The Unit had a low 90s Slider, not a curve). If the changeup develops (which is, along with financial interests, the main reason he is down in AA) then we are looking at a dominance on the Pedro Martinez level.