Drew Storen has just entered the chronicles of Major League Baseball, entering tonight's game at Busch Stadium in the seventh inning. He retired the first hitter he faced, Felipe Lopez, on a foul fly out to left.
Now that Storen - picked 10th in last year's draft with a compensatory pick the Nats received for not signing their 2008 first-round pick - is a big leaguer, what's happening with the one that got away, right-handed pitcher Aaron Crow?
If you've forgotten, the Nats took Crow with the 9th pick in the 2008 June draft. His representatives dragged their feet, choosing not to begin negotiations until the eleventh hour, and starting their demands at an unrealistic $9 million.
By the deadline, Crow's demands had dropped to $4.5 million, and the Nats offered $3.5 million, a figure that would've made Crow the highest paid arm in the draft.
No deal. Crow instead signed with the independent Ft. Worth Cats of the American Association. He pitched sparingly, waiting for the 2009 draft, where he dropped to the 12th selection by the Kansas City Royals. After prolonged negotiations, he signed a deal worth a guaranteed $3 million, with $1.5 million in incentives, depending on how much time he spends in the big leagues the next three seasons.
Crow was assigned to Double-A ball, and now finds himself wearing a Nats' uniform: that of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League.
At the moment, Crow has made 8 starts for the Arky Nats, winning one and losing 3, with an ERA of 4.75. In 47.1 innings, he's allowed 51 hits and 20 walks. He's struck out 25 hitters. Scouts who have seen Crow say his year in indy ball was largely a waste.
"He's got some rust," one told me, "and he would've been better off starting at a lower classification."
It's entirely possible that Crow will turn out to be one of the all-time greats, but the Royals look like they're a year or two from approaching the corner struggling teams need to turn. Is he really better off? It's not for me to say, but for the moment, the Nationals certainly are. Storen's already here after being pretty dominant in four different leagues from Single-A through Triple-A. Crow may get a look-see in September, but the Nationals appear to be much closer to a winning percentage this year and next than does KC.
So far, it's advantage Washington.