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Strasburg breezes in Triple-A debut05/07/2010 11:01 PM ET
By Brad Kallet / Special to MLB.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- With a runner on second and one out in the second inning, Stephen Strasburg stepped to the plate for the first time in his Triple-A career.
Flash bulbs popped across Alliance Bank Stadium as Strasburg lined the first pitch from Ryne Reynoso into right-center field, scoring Seth Bynum with the game's first run.
Oh, yeah. He can pitch, too.
Strasburg lived up to expectations in his Triple-A debut Friday night, allowing one hit over six innings, as the Syracuse Chiefs blanked the Gwinnett Braves, 7-0, in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 13,766.
The 21-year-old right-hander fanned six and issued just one walk, throwing 45 of 65 pitches for strikes.
"You try to throw all your pitches hard and let the grip do the work," Strasburg said. "A lot of hitters are going to pick up on a slight change in arm speed, so you really have to sell all of your pitches by throwing everything off your fastball."
Strasburg was in control from the outset. Matt Young grounded weakly to second before he fanned Gregor Blanco with a masterful sequence. After Strasburg got two called strikes at 96 and 97 mph, respectively, he baffled Blanco with a devastating 82 mph curveball. He struck out Brent Clevlen to end the inning.
It didn't get any easier for the Braves.
Strasburg retired the next seven batters until Blanco hit a seeing-eye single that just sneaked through the hole into center field. It turned out to be the only blip on the fireballer's radar.
Strasburg set down eight of the next nine Braves, issuing only a fifth-inning walk to Joe Thurston. The San Diego State product threw his fastball consistently around 96 mph, hitting 98 and 99 on occasion. But he utilized an array of off-speed pitches to keep Gwinnett off-balance.
Carlos Maldonado, Strasburg's batterymate, knew instantly that he was part of something special.
"He was fun to catch," Maldonado said. "It was a lot easier just to put the finger down and he won't shake [you off], he'll just execute the pitch. No matter who is hitting, whether it's a right-handed hitter or a left-handed hitter, he makes the adjustment."
Strasburg's final inning summed up his stellar night. He induced two slow grounders, then got ahead 0-2 on Blanco. With the crowd anticipating another strikeout, baseball's most highly touted prospect did not disappoint -- he dumped a breaking ball that froze Blanco as the inning came to a close.
Aware that Strasburg's night was probably over, the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he reached the dugout steps.
Though Friday was a small sample size, Chiefs manager Trent Jewett knows he has something special in Strasburg -- if only for a couple more weeks.
"You see remarkable arms from time to time, but generally those guys are throwing 100 pitches in five innings," Jewett said. "They can't get through the lineup, and they're grunting it up there. You don't feel that way with this guy. He commands the stuff that he possesses."
Jason Bergmann, Atahualpa Severino and Drew Storen each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out for Syracuse.
The Chiefs were led by Mike Morse, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.