Strasburg likely on the fast track

STAFF WRITERMay 21, 2010 

Triangle baseball fans hoping to get a look at Stephen Strasburg, ranked the No. 2 prospect in baseball, will probably have to head up to Washington sometime this season.

That is, don't expect the phenom pitcher to be with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs until late July, when the team will be hosted by the Durham Bulls.

Strasburg, last June's No. 1 overall draft pick, is on the fast track in the Washington Nationals system. In his first three starts for Syracuse, Strasburg (3-0) hasn't allowed a run in 181/3 innings and has 22 strikeouts. With the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators, Strasburg had five starts, earning a 3-1 records with a 1.64 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings before being promoted to Syracuse.

The Nationals, who have put together a solid start to the season, are being cautious with Strasburg despite calls to promote him now.

But nobody expects Strasburg to be in the minors long, and Nationals beat writer Adam Kilgore, of the Washington Post, wrote that June 4 is the likely date of Strasburg's debut. In case you're wondering, that's a 7:05 p.m. game against the Cincinnati Reds in Washington.

Pack vs. Heels: No, the two college baseball programs don't face each other this weekend.

Only one will likely make the ACC tournament next week, and before Thursday's games, N.C. State had a tenuous one-game lead. The Heels hold the tiebreaker, having won two of three against the Pack in April.

But N.C. State hosts an unranked Duke team, while the North Carolina hosts No. 12 Virginia Tech.

Prospects in town: Former North Carolina second baseman Dustin Ackley, a member of the Double-A West Tennessee DiamondJaxx will be in Zebulon starting Wednesday to face the Carolina Mudcats. Ackley was picked second by the Seattle Mariners in last June's draft. He's ranked the No. 11 prospect overall by Baseball America. He has a .200 batting average after 35 games, with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, 10 RBIs and 23 strikeouts.

The Durham Bulls host the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, starting Saturday. On their roster are a pair of top prospects, though both are struggling offensively. First baseman Lars Anderson has a .250 batting average, and center fielder Joss Reddick has a .187 batting average.

Five to Watch

Virginia Tech at North Carolina, today, 7 p.m.

Duke at N.C. State, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Pawtucket Red Sox at Durham Bulls, Sunday, 5:05 p.m.

West Tennessee DiamondJaxx at Carolina Mudcats, Wednesday, 7:15 p.m.

Rochester Red Wings at Durham Bulls, Thursday, 7:05 p.m.

Arm of the Week

N.C. State junior Jake Buchanan beat Florida State last Friday, allowing two runs in 71/3 innings with six strikeouts.

Bat of the Week

Duke junior Jake Lemmerman went 5-for-10 with two homers, seven RBIs and four walks.

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