Strasburg has strong debut in Fall League

PHOENIX -- Washington Nationals high-priced prospect Stephen Strasburg reached 99 mph with his first pitch Friday night and worked 3 1-3 scoreless innings in his Arizona Fall League debut.

Strasburg, who signed a record $15.1 million, four-year contract with the Nationals as the first player taken in the June draft, gave up only two singles and a walk while striking out two for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

He was removed after throwing 50 pitches, the limit set by the Nationals as Strasburg works himself back into shape after spending most of the summer in contract negotiations.

"It was a great feeling. I was extremely excited to go out there," said Strasburg, whose family flew in from San Diego for the game. "It was a positive. I didn't put any expectations on myself. I just wanted to go out and face hitters.

"I had a little bit of adrenaline going early on, kinda rushing a little bit to the plate. I've been there before. I remember feeling the same way in my first start in college," he said. "It's something that you have to recognize and make the adjustment."

Strasburg earned the win for Phoenix -- 7-4 over Scottsdale -- because of the liberal Fall League scoring rules.

The right-hander walked the leadoff man in the second inning and gave up a one-out single to Thomas Neal in the third for Scottsdale's first hit, but both runners were erased on double play grounders.

Jose Tabata hit Strasburg's second and only other 99 mph fastball for a single to lead off the fourth inning, and Strasburg was removed after getting a forceout on the next batter.

Except for the two hits, Scottsdale did not hit a ball out of the infield. Strasburg got both his strikeouts in the first inning, on changeups. He threw 32 strikes.

"He knows that he is going to have to use that (changeup). It really doesn't matter how hard you throw, hitters up here can hit 100 miles an hour. So to be able to change speeds is big for him," said Phoenix pitching coach Paul Menhart, who is a coach in the Nationals' organization.

"I love to go out there and compete, and it was great to be able to do that," Strasburg said.

"It's a long process getting back into pitching and maintaining your endurance for a whole game. That was a long time that I took off. It's a day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month transition."

Strasburg is expected to make his second start here Thursday, and he is expected to make at least five starts during the Fall League.