‘The California Cannon’ at Alliance Bank Stadium
Russ Tarby 05/27/10
Forget that irreligious media moniker. Let’s face it, he’s less like a heavenly messenger and more like a rugged and reliable artillery piece.
I call former San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg “The California Cannon.”
Because the Syracuse Chiefs are the Nationals’ top farm club, Strasburg and his explosive fastball have made their mark here in four marvelous starts during this memorable month of May.
He’ll likely pitch his fifth and last game at Alliance Bank Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 29, against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
The Golden State product who signed with the Washington Nationals last year as the overall No. 1 pick in the 2009 amateur draft throws a fastball clocked at between 96 and 99 mph. He also delivers a devilish curve, a deceptive changeup and a ground-out-inducing sinker.
Strasburg, – who’s just 21 years old – has all the tools and he uses them as wisely as a well-seasoned veteran hurler. By cleverly mixing his pitches, he keeps batters off-balance and swinging wildly. While his secondary offerings make his performances complete, their effectiveness relies on that hurtling heater. Once a hitter has seen that pitch whizzing by them, the slower change and the bending curve simply mesmerize the man.
"The California Cannon" shoots straight, hits the corners, dazzles batters and fascinates fans.
In his first three International league starts for Syracuse, Strasburg has struck out 22 batters in 18 and one-third innings, allowed zero runs, and just four walks and four hits, all seeing-eye ground balls. He notched three wins in a row with a perfect 0.00 ERA.
In his second ABS appearance May 12, Strasburg allowed no hits over six innings against the Norfolk Tides.
Everybody’s asking what makes him so good.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Strasburg points out that he has large hands, long arms and strong legs. His delivery is inevitably described as “effortless.”
In his most recent outing May 19 in Rochester against the Red Wings, "The California Cannon" shot down batter after batter, whiffing nine, on the way to his third Triple-A victory.
When Chiefs Manager Trent Jewett took him out of the game after Strasburg reached his pitch-limit of 90, the Frontier Field crowd gave him a standing O but then began booing him when he neglected to tip his cap. Later, he told reporters he didn’t feel he’d accomplished enough to deserve the ovation.
Maybe he’ll feel differently once he starts setting down National League hitters?
The Nationals are expected to call for "The California Cannon" to make his major-league debut June 4 in Washington against the Cincinnati Reds.
TAGS: Russ Tarby,The California Cannon,Alliance Bank Stadium,Syracuse CHiefs, syracuse baseball,San Diego State, National's farm club,pitcher Stephen Strasburg Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
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