How close is Drew Storen to the Majors? It seems to be the other most common question when people talk about Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen.
Both had very good Arizona Fall League performances and both are Top 10 Nationals picks from 2009.
P-Nats pitching coach Paul Menhart had the most recent look at Storen in Arizona and told me, "Drew has already had his inaugural minor league freshman year (which makes it a little different experience than what Stephen went through).
"He showed he can pitch at each level he went to. Does he have anything else to prove? Yes. Will he be vying for a spot? Absolutely. But that is similar to everyone else in camp. What he does in spring training will dictate where he starts, just like Stephen. The front office has plan for Drew as well. Bottom line is how good his stuff is will dictate where he pitches in 2010."
You wonder how much Eddie Guardado, Brian Bruney and Matt Capps' presence will have on when Drew arrives. But it's always better to ease any rookie into things and not have him forced to the big leagues out of necessity.
Similar to Stephen, I would not anticipate Drew making the Opening Day roster. He is good enough to make the team out of Viera, but I would assume the team would like to delay Drew's free agent clock, as well as Stephen's, and that would mean a late April call up at the earliest (Drew. Not Stephen. Easy.) But again, with all the experience just signed by Mike Rizzo for the bullpen, there is no panic button to get Drew here yesterday.
On another note, while driving to Boston Wednesday for the GW/Harvard game, I listened to Boston sports radio and the subject went from the Patriots to the Red Sox pretty quickly. The hosts were complimenting the Red Sox and how well their minor leagues has produced pitching over the years but how difficult it has been for them to groom a power hitter (I think it was in response to the free agent market and their recent loss of Jason Bay to the Mets).
They did mention Kevin Youkilis as an example from early on in the decade (and Dustin Pedroia as a excellent hitter, but not the power guy they want); but they were hoping the organization could start getting some power hitters from their system as well. The hosts continued that Boston was doing a good job of bringing pitchers up through their organization but would not mind seeing some "thump" arrive soon as well.
It was interesting to me that even a team that has won two world championships in the last five seasons is wishing for groomed power hitters instead of having to buy them.
Finding a power hitter through your system isn't easy, that's why I wonder if that would be where the Nats go with their #1 overall in June 2010 with the organization seemingly doing a nice job of building pitching talent from within the last couple of seasons.