Stephen Strasburg made his latest and perhaps second-to-last Triple-A start last night, tossing 6.1 shutout innings against the Twins’ affiliate in Rochester, New York. My friend and former SABR convention roommate Ben Jacobs was in attendance and offered up this scouting report:
Strasburg touched 99 mph on the park gun a handful of times and worked consistently in the 96-98 range. He made several hitters look silly with his curveball, either freezing them on a pitch that dropped into the strike zone or getting them to swing at a pitch that ended up in the dirt. Throughout the night, he probably hit 15 numbers on the radar gun between 79 and 99.
He did struggle with wildness at times, walking two. In fact, after throwing 24 pitches in the game, he had thrown 12 strikes and 12 balls. He settled down after that, throwing 48 strikes and 20 balls the rest of the way. The Red Wings managed three hits … but none of them were hit hard.
The first hit was an infield single that third baseman Chris Lambin made a nice bare-handed play on, but Trevor Plouffe beat it out at first. The other two were grounders up the middle. In fact, the Red Wings only hit two balls hard all night off Strasburg: a line drive right at center fielder Justin Maxwell and a hot shot down the line on which Lambin made a beautiful diving snare.
Jacobs’ conclusion? “Strasburg has no business being in the minor leagues.”
With one start likely remaining until the Nationals are done suppressing his service time and call Strasburg up to Washington, he’s logged 18.1 scoreless innings in three outings at Triple-A and is 6-1 with a 0.89 ERA, .123 opponents’ batting average, and 49/10 K/BB ratio in 40.1 total innings as a minor leaguer.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.