For the first time in history, the Major League Baseball Network will televise the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The MLB Network will actually start tv coverage at 6:00 p.m.
Although the baseball draft will never compare to the Mel Kiper Jr.-inspired mania of the NFL Draft (or even the NBA’s), MLB is hoping to draw a niche tv audience. The big story in this year’s draft is pitcher Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State, who is being called the greatest college pitching prospect in history. The MLB Network is actually designing much of its coverage around Starsburg.
The industry is already buzzing about Strasburg’s potential $50 million asking price. He is being represented by superagent Scott Boras. Strasburg not only went 13-1 with a 1.22 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 119 innings, but he also hit 103 MPH on the radar gun on multiple occassions.
Strasburg will probably be picked number one overall by the hapless Washington Nationals. The only exception would be if Washington decides they can’t afford the young pitcher.
Strasburg’s manager is former Major league superstar Tony Gwynn. Gwynn says Strasburg would be able to immediately step into the Nationals starting rotation and be their best pitcher. Gwynn also said Strasburg could join his old club, the San Diego Padres, and immediately be their #3 starter behind Jake Peavy and Chris Young.
Whether Strasburg throws a pitch for a Major League team this season is very much open for debate. Most scouting directors oppose Strasburg jumping immediately to the Majors. Besides, he’ll probably spend the entire summer having Boras haggling over his contract. The all-time record bonus ever paid to a college pitcher was the just over $10 million the Chicago Cubs paid mark Prior of USC. As we mentioned, Boras is seeking $50 million for Strasburg.