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Strasburg 4/8/2009

With the holiday weekend causing a scheduling shift around college baseball, usual Friday starter Stephen Strasburg takes the hill on a Thursday to lead off San Diego State’s series at UNLV. We all know what Strasburg has done to this point, but it never hurts to throw out his season numbers so far – unless, of course, you’re a fan of the Mariners…

On the season, Strasburg has struck out 94 batters while only walking 10 in 48.1 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a whopping .160 against him so far (27 for 169). He’s good.

He’ll be facing a decent UNLV lineup, but one built on very few interesting pro prospects. In fact, Strasburg has faced UNLV once already this year and put up the following line: 7 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 14 K. Again, he’s good.

This time, however, Strasburg will be going to UNLV’s Earl E. Wilson Stadium, a hitter’s paradise with a park factor of 121. How will he fare the second time up against the Rebels? How will he adjust to pitching in an even friendlier hitting environment than his own home park? We’ll know soon enough. Until then, a look at the three best UNLV hitting prospects that Stephen Strasburg will face tonight…after the jump

SR OF JJ Sferra – Don’t let the funny name fool you, JJ Sferra has some talent. He’ll look to catch the eye of a big league scouting director this spring as a player capable of playing all three outfield spots who does a little bit of everything. With good plate discipline, decent speed and baserunning instincts, and a little bit of pop, Sferra could be drafted late (Round 20+) by a team in need of filling out a low minor league affiliate’s roster. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…a foot in the door is a foot in the door.

JR C Drew Beuerlein – You’d think Drew’s biggest claim to fame, besides being a pretty good college baseball player of course, would be the fact that his older cousin, Steve, was a long time NFL QB who once led the league in passing yardage. It’s a cool fact, but it’s hardly the most interesting thing about UNLV’s starting catcher. Did you know that Drew Beuerlein was once in a band called the Milk Karton Kids? That’s the kind of tidbit that only the exhaustive research that this website provides can unearth. Beuerlein is a decent glove, high contact, gap power prospect that will probably be best served by returning to school and marketing himself as a potential mid-round senior sign in 2010.

SR OF Ryan Thornton – Thornton has the most tools as any position player on the UNLV roster, but his high strikeout numbers and questionable defense have held his prospect stock from reaching top-5 round consideration. As a senior sign, however, Thornton offers a good high-upside, low-risk power/speed blend that many fellow late round draftees simply can’t match up with. If you want the player more likely to reach the big leagues as a backup outfielder, you take Sferra late. If you’d rather gamble on a player that has the tools to contribute in the bigs, but is far less likely to ever put it all together, then you take the chance on Thornton late.

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