There was buzz earlier this year that the Nats top draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, would rocket straight to the majors. Certainly plenty of scouts claimed he was ready. (One even went so far as to say that he was as good as the Yankees' AJ Burnett.)
So what a sight it was yesterday, when Strassy showed up to the Nats minor league complex for his first professional workout. And what a workout it was, as the Washington Times reported:
"'Work' in this regard was about as mundane as it gets for a professional ballplayer. Strasburg's first on-field appearance as a member of the Nationals organization lasted less than an hour. It featured no 100-mph fastballs, no sharp-breaking sliders and certainly nothing that bore the slightest resemblance to game-like conditions.
"Rather, the 21-year-old right-hander played catch for about 10 minutes, working his way up from a distance of 10 feet to 90 feet. He got one-on-one instruction on how to cover first base, how to field comebackers and how to throw to second base without getting his shortstop killed."
It's a long way from Viera to Washington, it seems.
The Nats are taking it easy with their prized prospect. He hasn't pitched competitively since his team was bounced by UVA in the College World Series, and the long layoff means his arm isn't quite in game shape.
Rather than forcing him out there on the mound, they're taking his time, building arm strength. After a week or so in the minor league complex, they're going to bring him to Washington to get a flavor of the big leagues (only by watching the team, not actually playing).
If all goes well, he'll be back in Florida in the spring, ready to impress in Spring Training. Perhaps there, he'll show that he's ready.
But as the hoopla over a mundane fielding workout shows, he's got a ways to go.