Strasburg and Chapman Can Be Baseball's Crosby and Ovechkin Of 2010

↵Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman have each taken a very ↵different path to professional baseball. Strasburg went to college and ↵was drafted first overall before signing his mega-deal with the ↵Nationals. Chapman defected from Cuba before signing his huge free agent ↵contract with the Reds. So to completely equate the two to Sidney Crosby ↵and Alexander Ovechkin isn't entirely fair, as both hockey stars were ↵drafted, and subsequently asked to save an entire league, not ↵just the franchises in two cities like Strasburg and Chapman may be ↵asked to do in the coming years. ↵

↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵That said, the parallels are similar. The two pitchers are on the ↵fast track to the majors and their success will be – like the two greats ↵in hockey – compared to the other for years to come. And, somewhat ↵serendipitously, both got their first professional starts on Sunday. ↵

↵

↵First, Strasburg, who got the win in his minor league debut, pitching ↵five full innings, while giving up four runs, though just one earned ↵run, on four hits and striking out eight. As Dave Sheinin wrote in the Washington Post, it was one heckuva debut, even with a few shaky moments. After his final warm-up toss hit 96 mph on the gun, Sheinin described the scene: ↵

↵
↵⇥The next pitch to leave Strasburg's hand was the first official one of his professional career. It clocked in at 99 mph, and the ball was quickly taken out of play and tossed into the Senators' dugout, where an official from Major League Baseball's licensing department put it into safe storage -- an artifact. ↵⇥

↵⇥And just like that, the most scrutinized, most highly anticipated minor league career in many years -- if not in all of baseball history -- was underway. ↵⇥

↵
↵Color him Crosby, I suppose. Which would make Chapman the Ovechkin of this comparison. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run, while striking out nine batters. Oh, and he hit 100-mph on the gun five times. Per Nick Evans on batsbaseball.com: ↵
↵⇥The story going into Sunday's game with Toledo was LHP Aroldis Chapman's professional debut in American baseball. He did not disappoint. The lefty from Cuba often seemed overpowering and was clocked at 100-plus five times. He left the game in the middle of the fifth inning, after throwing 85 pitches, 55 were for strikes, and striking out nine. ↵⇥

↵⇥In the first inning he retired the Hens in order, including a three-pitch strikeout of Brennan Boesch to end the inning. The last pitch to Boesch was clocked at 101-mph. Toledo threatened in the second with three singles, two of which were of the infield variety, but Chapman got Danny Worth to ground out to second to end the threat. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥From that point Chapman went on to retire eight consecutive batters, five via the strikeout. ↵⇥

↵
↵There should be decidedly less pressure – for now – on the two pitchers than there was for the two stars on ice back in 2005-06. But if their first professional starts are any indication, their careers should be just as much fun to parallel.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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