The Nationals may be in last place in the NL East but they were in the spotlight yesterday when they made Bryce Harper, a 17-year-old slugger, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

They will be in the spotlight again today when Stephen Strasburg makes his major league debut a year after being chosen No. 1 in the 2009 amateur draft.

It is unlikely that Harper will be making his major league debut next season since the Nationals probably have no plans to rush him to the majors. With Scott Boras as his agent, it is unlikely that Harper will even sign before the minor league season is over in less than three months.

He may make more money with Boras as his agent, but he will pay the price in time lost while sitting on the sidelines and will slow his development as a professional baseball player.

Harper, who will be 18 in October, was an easy No. 1 choice for the Nationals and should be in Washington sometime during the 2012 or 2013 seasons.

Meanwhile tonight at 7:05 ET Stephen Strasburg will make his major league debut in Washington against the Pittsburgh Pirates with Jeff Karstens (1-1) as his mound opponent.

It would have been easy for the Nationals to have called up Strasburg sooner when they were a season-high five games over .500 with a 20-15 record on May 13. Since then they have posted a 7-16 record and are in last place in the NL East.

The question is, if Mike Leake of the Reds who went directly to the majors after compiling a 40-5 record while pitching for Arizona State, then why wasn’t Strasburg offered the same opportunity? Leake has a 5-0 record after defeating the Nationals last Saturday.

Strasburg was 7-2 with a 1.30 combined ERA in two minor league stops at AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse. He has allowed only one home run in 55 innings while striking out 65 and walking 13.

The game tonight will be shown on MLB Network at 7:00 ET unless blacked out in an area.

Is Baseball’s Draft Overhyped?

You would think that 45 years after the major league amateur draft started the walls of the Hall of Fame would be adorned with several plaques of No. 1 picks. However, not one No. 1 pick has a plaque on the walls.

It will be five or six years before Ken Griffey Jr. should be the first No. 1 pick inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Alex Rodriguez is the only surefire Hall of Famer among active players today. He needs 406 hits for 3,000 hits, nine home runs for 600 home runs, and 51 runs batted in for 1,800 runs batted in and he won’t even be 35 till next month.

He is only two years from having 2,000 runs batted if he stays healthy. That would place him with Hank Aaron, 2,297, Babe Ruth 2,213, and Cap Anson 2,075 as one of only four players to have 2,000 runs batted in.

The only other No. 1 picks playing today who have a chance of entering the Hall of Fame are Chipper Jones, Joe Mauer, and Adrian Gonzalez. Jones looked to be more of a sure thing a couple of years ago but his three home runs in 189 plate appearances and his recent injury history make it a closer call on whether he will be inducted.

Meanwhile, Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick in 2004, is trying to make a comeback at the age of 24 with Charlotte in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system, but is currently on the disabled list.


Grandson Makes All Star Team

It looked like my grandson might not make the Groves, Texas Little League All Star team a few days ago but he called last night and told me had made the team.

He hopes to play in the major leagues someday, and he has the work ethic it takes to make it, but a lot can happen in the next few years. But for right now his dream is still alive.

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