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Nats Sign Strasburg, Now the Pressure's on HIM

Everyone knew that Stephen Strasburg was going to be the top pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. And when the Nationals did the inevitable and picked him, everyone knew he would be tough to sign.

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The $50 million he was said to be seeking seemed pretty crazy, but then again, so were his stats at San Diego State University.

This kid went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 starts this season, threw a no-hitter, and tallied 195 strikeouts compared to just 19 walks. He’s got a fastball that can hit 102 miles per hour and a filthy breaking ball on top of that. Strasburg was no ordinary prospect, and he was looking for a deal to match his talent.

A year after failing to sign first-round pick Aaron Crow, the Nats simply could not let Strasburg go. They were being pressured by MLB to not give into the insane financial demands, but Nats fans needed someone to believe in. And that someone was Strasburg.

Well, the Nats did their work and the fans got their wish when Strasburg signed a major league contract with a guaranteed $15.1 million. And now all he has to do is go out there and prove that he’s the best pitcher ever. If you think the Nats felt pressure to sign this kid, multiply that by 100 and you’re still not even close to the pressure on Strasburg to succeed.

When the 2010 season begins, Strasburg will be in the rotation. Most draft picks are given time to develop, years in the minors to hone their craft and get used to the life of a pro athlete. Strasburg will not get that chance. And while he is just one pitcher, it won’t be good enough for him to turn in a bunch of quality starts and finish with a few more wins than losses. No way. Strasburg asked for special treatment and now he has to give it back.

Maybe its unfair to put that much pressure on a rookie, but if you ask me, that’s the least Strasburg owes Washington for taking that much money -- before ever throwing a pitch in a major league game -- and making them wait until a minute before the deadline to sign. Some players have to just be good to avoid the “bust” label. Strasburg will have to be incredible.

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