With his 14-strikeout performance on Tuesday, rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg immediately showed the baseball world the significance of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. And the timing of Strasburg's incredible debut couldn't have come at a better time for FOX's "This Week in Baseball." This week's show, which airs at 3 p.m. ET and takes a look this year's Draft, will open with a segment on Strasburg's jaw-dropping performance against the Pirates on Tuesday night.
In past years, first-round selections such as Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Philadelphia's Chase Utley wasted little time transforming their franchises into World Series contenders. And the Nationals are hoping Strasburg -- last year's No. 1 overall pick -- can produce similar results. Fortunately for Strasburg, more help is on the way.
With this year's No. 1 overall pick, Washington selected Bryce Harper, a 17-year-old outfielder from the University of Southern Nevada.
Prior to Tuesday's game, TWIB wired Strasburg's first batter, Pirates lead-off hitter Andrew McCutchen, to collect sound bites from the opposing dugout. After lining out to short in his first at-bat, TWIB recorded McCutchen telling his teammates, "We're going to get him all night."
"Obviously, he was wrong," TWIB lead producer Matt Anderton said. "But it was a look at Strasburg's first start with the inside access that we always try to give, and [McCutchen] brought a unique perspective to it."
Following the Strasburg segment, TWIB shifts gears and documents Harper's road to the Nationals' radar. The TWIB crew traveled to the University of Southern Nevada to capture Harper playing in the comforts of his collegiate atmosphere.
Then, before the Draft, they interviewed Washington GM Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman to discuss Harper's budding potential as a Major League hitter.
But the next superstar isn't always discovered in the opening rounds. Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols slipped to the 13th round of the 1999 Draft before St. Louis selected him. Two rounds later, San Diego tabbed 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy with the 472nd overall pick.
So as part of the Pepsi Refresh segment, TWIB profiled former Mets catcher Mike Piazza's ascension to Major League prestige after overcoming extremely long odds as the last player selected in the 1988 Draft.
"He's got to be one of the best steals of all time," Anderton said. "The piece starts off naming a few other players like [Roy] Oswalt, who was drafted in the 23rd round, and Pujols, but Piazza was perhaps the biggest steal of all time since he was the last player picked."
For the Chevrolet "Going All Out" segment, TWIB focused on Robbie Aviles, a projected second-round pitching prospect from Suffern (N.Y.) High School. A few days prior to the Draft, however, Aviles suffered a partial tear in his pitching elbow during his last start for Suffern, causing him to freefall into the seventh round, where he was selected by Cleveland.
"It still works for the story, because it shows an example of a typical player who is drafted and isn't a top selection, but will probably make it into the Minor Leagues in the long run," Anderton said.
TWIB can be seen on video boards in stadiums, as well as internationally in Australia, Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Japan, Latin America, the Middle East, The Netherlands, Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama and Taiwan.
Viewers can e-mail the show at email@example.com, and view MLBProductions.com for original blogs and bonus footage. There will also be a re-airing of the show on MLB Network at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Here are some of the other segments TWIB will feature in its half-hour show this Saturday:
The Gillette "Rookie" segment focuses on Giants' rookie catcher Buster Posey, who is batting .450 this year, and has hit safely in 10 of his 11 appearances.
The XM "Call of the Week" takes a look at Mets first baseman Ike Davis' first career walk-off home run, which propelled New York to a 2-1 victory against San Diego Tuesday night.
The State Farm "Big League Blast" features Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who crushed a solo shot and a grand slam against Toronto on Tuesday night.
Holiday Inn's "Winning Road Trip" highlights the Red Sox starting rotation's recent success. During Boston's past eight road games, the staff has combined to tally an impressive 8-0 record with a 0.70 ERA.
"How 'Bout That" will showcase the top plays and bloopers from the previous week.
Didier Morais is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.