VIERA, Fla. -- Is Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg starting the 2010 season in the Minor Leagues? General manager Mike Rizzo is leaning toward that direction although no official decision has been made.
Strasburg, the No.1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is scheduled to pitch Friday night against the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium.
"In all probability, Stephen would benefit from going to the Minor Leagues," Rizzo said via text message. "The official decision has not been made."
Rizzo has helped build farm systems for more than 20 years and he is not known to rush prospects to the big leagues. When asked about the team's plans for Strasburg two weeks ago, Rizzo said the organization would develop Strasburg the right way.
"My stringent plan is, we are going to develop the player, to get the most out of him -- not only for 2010, but for the long-term," Rizzo said. "We are going to be cautious and careful with him, because he has a great future ahead of him. We are going to do what's best for Stephen and the Washington Nationals in 2010 and beyond.
"To rush a person to the big leagues and to have them take two or three steps backwards, I think, is the wrong plan. ... I have a plan in my mind for Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Derek Norris and all the rest of our top-flight prospects. We are going to dictate to them how we are going to handle their careers. But it's always in the best interest of the player and the organization."
Rizzo reiterated his philosophy to Sirius XM's MLB Home Plate on Tuesday evening.
"I've always had the philosophy that I don't believe any pitcher can come from the amateur ranks to the Major League ranks without getting tested under fire in the Minor Leagues. [Strasburg] had a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League. He's got the stuff, the command, the poise and the presence to probably pitch in the Major Leagues right now, but there's parts of his game that do need to be tweaked.
"He rarely pitched from the stretch in his college career. He's really too quick to the plate from the stretch. He's 1.0 [seconds] or under 1.0 to the plate from the stretch and has had the sense of elevating his fastball because of it. He has to learn how to control the running game, how to field his position, bunts and so forth. But he's never had failure and I think that the Minor Leagues not only teaches you how to handle failure but how to do those other little things that it takes to be a successful pitcher."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.