Stephen Strasburg Has Potential To Make It Big in Major Leagues
Stephen Strasburg - From Burritos To Baseball
Every day after practice, Stephen Strasburg headed to the taco shop and ordered the same thing – a gigantic steak burrito with fries. Junk food and little exercise caused him to balloon to 250 pounds by his senior year at West Hills High in San Diego. Sometimes, when he was pitching for the baseball team, he'd collapse on the mound because his knees weren’t strong enough to support his weight.
Yet, Stephen showed potential as a baseball player. He was a solid pitcher and because he was such a great student (he had a 4.37 gpa), San Diego State University decided to take a chance on him. When he arrived on campus, it seemed that the coaching staff made a huge mistake. Stephen couldn’t handle living with the other players and in less than a week he moved back in with his mom and grandma. Things got worse when the team started their preseason conditioning. Stephen was so out-of-shape, he couldn’t make it through warm-ups without vomiting. The team’s strength coach nicknamed Stephen "Sloth", because he was so far behind his teammates. After two weeks, the strength coach told him he should consider quitting, and Stephen almost dropped out.
Luckily for the SDSU baseball team, he didn’t. He trained harder, ate healthier, and as a result, lost weight and felt better about himself. The coaches noticed something more: after losing thirty pounds, he was throwing his fastball harder, much harder. During his first year with the Aztecs, his fastball improved from 91 to 97 mph and he was named to the Freshman All-America team; as a sophomore, his heater would be clocked at an unbelievable 103 mph - only once has a pitcher in the Major Leagues thrown a pitch faster than that (Joel Zumaya of the Detroit Tigers clocked 104 on the radar gun during a game in 2006)!
Stephen threw so well during his sophomore season in 2008, he once struck out 23 out of 27 batters in a game against Utah, that he was selected to represent the United States at the Olympics in Beijing(the first college player ever chosen) where he helped Team USA win a bronze medal. But Stephen wasn't finished. In 2009, he went 13-1 for SDSU, leading the nation in ERA (1.32), victories (13), strikeouts (195), and strikeouts per 9 innings (16.1). In his final game as an Aztec, he struck out 17 batters on the way to pitching his first ever no-hitter.
On June 9, 2009, just thirty-one days after his no-hitter, Stephen Strasburg was selected by the Washington Nationals with the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, signing a four-year contract worth 15.1 million dollars. He pitched outstanding during spring training in March, allowing only 2 runs in 9 innings, striking out 12 batters and walking only one.
Because he is still only 21 years old, Stephen will begin the season in the minor leagues at class AA Harrisburg, but many experts expect him to be pitching in the major leagues by summer, and feel he has the potential to be one of the greatest pitchers ever. Not bad for a kid who three years ago, spent more time hurling burritos than fastballs.
Written By: Ben Lev for KOL