OpinionNovember 22, 2008

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Is Strasburg really #1?

By MaudDib

We are still a college baseball season away from the 2009 MLB Draft and a lot can happen in the mean time. Right now, though, Stephen Strasburg is considered the best starting pitcher and the most likely to go #1. His arsenal consists of a high 90’s fastball and a devastating slider along with a “classic” pitchers frame, which means he should be able to handle a heavy workload. Last April he pitched a one hit complete game shutout with 23 of the 27 outs coming from strikeouts. But judging from the past, the sure fire #1 guy doesn’t always land the #1 pick. Just last year Pedro Alvarez was considered by many to be the best hitter on the board but fell to #2 when the Rays selected Tim Beckham at #1. So who is most likely to take the #1 spot over Strasburg should he falter?

Grant Green is my favorite to be the first hitter off the board. He has the range to stay at shortstop but also has the arm to play third base if needed. As a sophomore last season he hit .390/.438/.690 with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 9 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. About the only thing he doesn’t do well is walk but he doesn’t strike out much either with just 35 K’s to 12 BB in 228 plate appearances. The major knock against him is that Boras is his agent but that is something he and Strasburg have in common. Five tool shortstops don’t come around that often and come draft time he has the best chance to be wearing a Nationals uniform if Strasburg stumbles.

Dustin Ackley, a North Carolina product, is probably the best hitter in the draft. Ackley put up some very impressive numbers last season with a line of .417/.503/.597 with 7 home runs, 21 doubles, and 19 stolen bases. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, and above-average speed, he looks like a strong candidate to play center field but earlier this year he under went Tommy John surgery which could affect his arm strength. All he needs to do is add some power to his already strong bat and he could easily be the first name called.

At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, this right-handed pitcher is somewhat under the radar because of Strasburg. Alex White throws a fastball that tops out at 96, a plus slider, and a decent splitter. Last season he threw just over 100 innings going 13-3 with a 2.83 ERA and striking out 113 batters. With strong mechanics and an effortless delivery, he should be able to stay healthy. He is being compared to Brandon Webb mostly because of the great sink he gets on his sinker. I think he is the dark horse candidate but if he takes another step up this year he could be the first overall pick.

Sean Brown is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Sean in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of MaudDib.
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