Around the Cage: Strasburg buzz
Has anyone received more hype entering Draft?
When the top selection of the First-Year Player Draft is announced on Tuesday -- and by all accounts it's believed to be right-hander Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State University -- only one of a seemingly endless parade of questions will be answered.
Strasburg, of course, has a fastball that's been clocked at 103 mph and has an adviser, Scott Boras, who has already offered the suggestion that his client should command a $50 million big league contract.
Call it hype, buzz or craziness, but it shows how talented Strasburg is, and it shows how intriguing this Draft has become.
It also makes for a heck of an Around the Cage question, which MLB.com's beat reporters got answers to by hitting the clubhouses, offices and broadcast booths of the Major Leagues and posing these questions to a host of luminaries around the game: Can you remember a top prospect who's gotten this much buzz? Who is the best player ever to be drafted No. 1? Knowing the pressure and expectations, would you still want to be drafted No. 1 or would you rather be taken sometime later? And what was your experience like with the Draft?
The first question brought out a number of names from way back, such as David Clyde (1973), and from recent memory, such as Mark Prior (2002) and David Price (2007). Twins reliever Sean Henn, for example, said he wasn't sure anyone had ever been as hyped as Strasburg is this year.
"I don't think so," Henn said. "I know Price got a little bit, but I don't think Prior got as much. So probably not. I don't think anybody else offers what he supposedly offers. I don't know. I've never seen him, but they said he's hit 103 mph."
As far as the best player ever to be drafted No. 1 overall, most people around the game agreed it was either Ken Griffey Jr. (1987) or Alex Rodriguez (1993). But Braves manager Bobby Cox said we might be seeing someone even better right now.
"I don't know, but [Twins catcher Joe] Mauer [first overall pick in 2001] has a chance to be better than all of them," Cox said. "With that swing, he can do so many things for your offense, and from what I can tell, he's pretty sound defensively."
When the question turned to pressure and expectations, players with different backgrounds and Draft experiences spoke from the heart and offered all kinds of advice to Strasburg.
D-backs outfielder Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, said Strasburg won't necessarily be negatively affected by the pressure.
"It depends on what kind of dude he is," Upton said. "If he's got swagger and he knows that his stuff is that good, no, it won't bother him. But if he's questioning his stuff, he's got problems."
Indians outfielder Trevor Crowe agreed, saying the expectations can work for Strasburg or against him.
"Yes, there's definitely pressure being a No. 1 pick, but there's also a path cleared for you," Crowe said. "And if you don't stub your toe along the way, normally with those guys, they get to the big leagues faster, because they're expected to.
"At the same time, there's more pressure, because you're supposed to get there quicker. So it's a give and take. I think if you're going to be able to play at the big league level, you can handle the pressure of being a high Draft pick."
Being drafted high or low is a big question for players wondering where they'll end up when Draft Day comes, and everyone has a different story.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, picked in 2003, didn't even know what happened, because he was driving from Missouri to Arizona.
"When I got home, I found out I was drafted," Kinsler said. "I wasn't in range [for a cell phone] during the drive home, so I got home and found out I was taken in the 17th round by the Texas Rangers."
Marlins outfielder Jeremy Hermida, taken with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2002 Draft, described it as a "whirlwind, hectic day."
"You don't know where you're going to go," Hermida said. "It's a very uncertain day, but it's the one day that decides your future. It's exciting, and it's a step that a lot of amateur athletes look forward to. It was very exciting for me, and it's going to be exciting for all the guys this year."
Here's a quick rundown of more of the answers from Around the Cage:
Can you remember a prospect who's gotten as much buzz as Strasburg?
Chris Wheeler, broadcaster, Phillies: "David Clyde. And that was before all of this media attention. Everybody knew about David Clyde. When he came out of high school, you would have thought he was Sandy Koufax. Everything about him. He was just scary. Now, I'm not saying he's more [hyped], because how can you be more hyped in those days than you are now? There's no way, because there are too many ways now that people know about you."
Tim Hudson, RHP, Braves: "I remember Brien Taylor [No. 1 overall pick in 1991] with the Yankees. He was like can't-miss Cy Young, Hall of Fame, superstar. Can't miss. The potential is always there. I hope this [Strasburg] kid has a good head on his shoulders. That's usually the difference between those who are able to accomplish something and the ones that throw it all out the window."
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: "Before, I'd say Jered Weaver [12th pick of the 2004 Draft] was the one I was most familiar with. I saw it first-hand, being on the [Long Beach State] team. He got a lot of attention and was supposed to be the No. 1 pick, but he had Boras and teams weren't sure what his signing demands were. That was interesting to see how that played out."
Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers: "My Draft, David Price was big. He was the talk of that Draft. I wasn't really familiar with the Drafts before that, just because I hadn't really been involved with it. But last year was kind of one of those Drafts where I don't think there was one big guy there. I think there were just a lot of good players, solid players, but nobody really stood out. This guy, obviously he's an outstanding talent in college. He's got a lot of expectations, but that's a good thing. Obviously, it'll be real exciting for him. I can't remember anybody [with such high expectations]. Talking with people, he's obviously as good as it comes -- throwing 100 with a pretty good breaking ball. That's pretty tough to find, even in the big leagues, let alone in the amateur Draft. I'd say he's one of the top guys to be publicized."
Fredi Gonzalez, manager, Marlins: "J.D. Drew [selected No. 2 overall in the 1997 Draft], but his hype was after he got drafted, because he didn't want to sign. I haven't paid too much attention to Drafts, but I remember J.D. Drew. The No. 1 guy always gets a lot of exposure, though."
Dave Righetti, pitching coach, Giants: "Well, Mark Prior, I guess, and I certainly remember Ben McDonald [first overall pick in 1989]. In my time, it was guys like Floyd Bannister [No. 1 overall pick in 1976] or David Clyde, who I ended up playing with. It's because [Strasburg is] good. Hopefully he'll stay healthy and enjoy his career."
What was your own Draft experience like?
James Loney, 1B, Dodgers (drafted 19th in the first round in 2002): "It was fun. I heard it on the Internet. Tommy Lasorda said my name. It was something where you're kind of like, 'All right, you know, let's get going. Let's try this out.' I was excited."
Mitch Maier, OF, Royals (drafted 30th in the first round in 2003): "I was excited and nervous. I was pretty sure I was going to get drafted where I was. I had my college coach with me at home and my family. It's definitely exciting and kind of nerve-wracking, because everything is out of your hands at that time. You're kind of just sitting there waiting to find out where you're going to go. It was a fun time."
Ben Francisco, OF, Indians (drafted in the fifth round in 2002): "I got hurt my junior year, so I didn't play the last three months of the season. I missed a lot of time but was still fortunate enough to get picked pretty high. I was sitting by the phone waiting, and when I got the call, I was pretty excited."
Clay Condrey, RHP, Phillies (drafted in 94th round, 1,728th overall, in 1996): "I got drafted in '96. ... The Yankees picked me, but I didn't sign. The guy that called me offered only a straight contract. I asked what round I went in. He said, 'I think it's better I don't tell you. So I must have gone in the last round (94th). That was in '96, before they put a cap on the draft."
Ian Stewart, IF, Rockies (drafted 10th in the first round in 2003): "I've always said if there was a year that I could go back and re-live, it would be my senior year of high school because I had so much fun playing, being with all my friends, winning the state championship and, with the Draft, being the first-round pick. It was definitely a lot of fun getting the hype for my school and for myself, personally."
Andrew Miller, LHP, Marlins (drafted sixth in the first round in 2006): "I didn't care one bit about going first or not. I was looking to have the draft work out in my favor the best way it could. Realistically, it's out of your control and teams are going to take who they want to take. It doesn't matter where you get picked, you're still going to have the pressure to perform. ... I just kind of sat around and listened to it on the Internet. It was just a situation where you waited for a phone call and waited to hear your name called. Hopefully it's a good situation and hopefully it all goes well. Fortunately, for me, it did."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.