If former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden is correct, there won't be a surprise when Washington makes the first pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft in June. Bowden, who resigned from his general manager position on March 1, said in a radio interview on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles that the club has already decided to draft pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg from San Diego State. "Washington is going to draft Strasburg," Bowden said, according to a transcript in the Washington Times. "The decision has already been made. It was made when I was there. That is who they are going to take. ... This is the best amateur pitcher since I was born. He is that good -- his delivery, his stuff, 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning, his makeup. He's got the entire package."
Strasburg is universally regarded as the top prospect in the draft and one of the top pitching prospects in the last decade. The right-hander, who has a fastball that regularly reaches 100 mph, is 9-0 with a 1.54 ERA in 10 starts for San Diego State. He's also struck out 135 batters in just 70 1/3 innings while walking just 13. But Strasburg and his agent Scott Boras are reportedly asking for a $50 million dollar contract, which would shatter the draft record of $10.5 million given to Mark Prior in 2001. "You think they are going to sign him early? No, it's going to be Aug. 15 at 11:57 p.m.," Bowden said. "It will end at around $15 million, about under $35 million of what Scott [Boras] wants, but that is where it ends up. It will be record-breaking, and he will be pitching in the big leagues in September. He is that good." Bowden resigned on March 1 amid a cloud of a federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to Latin American prospects. But Bowden again maintained his innocence and said he resigned because of the public relations implications. "I never even went to the Dominican Republic, don't even have a passport," Bowden said. "But the reality is when you are the general manager, you are responsible for everything that goes on under you in every department. You can't control what every employee does or doesn't do, but you have the responsibility to oversee it. So between the not winning and the combination of the off-field distractions, I had become a problem, PR-wise, in Washington." Bowden also had interesting things to say about current Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, whom the Nationals targeted in free agency before he ultimately decided to sign with the Yankees for eight years and $180 million. "The Washington Nationals offered more money and more years than anybody in baseball," Bowden said. "People don't know that. It's not public. But that's the truth. The reality in this is Mark Teixeira had made up his mind. He was going to go to the Yankees."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.