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Tony Gwynn Says Strasburg Would Be Nationals No. 1 Right Now

May 3, 2009 – 1:10 PM
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Tom Fornelli

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To anybody who has had a chance to see San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg, it's pretty clear the kid is the best player available in the amateur draft this summer. With his 99 mph fastball and ability to locate pitches, the only thing that could possibly keep him from being chosen first by the Washington Nationals would be fear of the money Scott Boras is going to want for him.

If you were to ask his manager, Tony Gwynn, what he thinks the Nationals should do about their possible fears, he'd tell you that the Nationals need to get over it. After all, if Strasburg joined the Nationals today, right this very second, Gwynn says he'd already be the ace of their rotation.
"He's further along at 20 than any young pitcher I've ever seen," said SDSU coach Tony Gwynn. "I didn't see some of the great, great ones, but for a 20-year-old junior to be out there recognizing that they're cheating on the fastball and just drop that slider right on them, then a change-up and then a 99 (mph fastball) on the black . . . ."

What if Strasburg was to somehow slip to the Padres at No. 3? I asked Gwynn where Strasburg would fit into the Padres' rotation if he joined the team this summer.

"Three," said Gwynn, who would put Strasburg right behind Jake Peavy and Chris Young.

"If he went to Seattle, he'd be three.

"If he goes to Washington, he'd be one."


"That's how I look at it," said Gwynn. "Now he's still got stuff he's got to learn. He's got to challenge the strike zone a little bit more at the big-league level."
It sounds somewhat ridiculous, yes, but then you look at the Nationals starting rotation and it begins to make a lot more sense. Though youngster Jordan Zimmermann is showing some promise, guys like John Lannan, Daniel Cabrera, Shairon Martis, and Scott Olsen dont' exactly inspire awe in anybody.

So Gwynn is probably right, and if the Nationals even think about passing on Strasburg because of his possible contract demands, then the only thing they'll be doing is ensuring they sit at the bottom of the NL East for years to come.

(Hat tip to Buster Olney)
Filed under: Sports