Stephen Strasburg will make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Pirates were originally scheduled to have Monday off.  However, a rained out game pushed a game against the Cubs to Monday, meaning that they won’t have the extra day of preparation.

Judging from all the hype around Strasburg, some fans may be disappointed with anything less than a no hitter and 20 strikeouts.  My own expectations are a bit lower.  I do think he’ll win the game, but I also expect some rookie jitters.  After all, he IS a rookie – and is facing immense pressure as the face of the Nationals.

17 year old Bryce Harper will become the second face of the franchise when the Nationals pick him with the top pick in this year’s draft.  Harper skipped his final two years of high school and is attending community college in order to gain eligibility for this year’s draft.  He’ll actually turn 18 in October, so he’s not substantially younger than some of the high school seniors in the draft.

Harper’s high school years were spent criss-crossing the country competing in All-Star tournaments.  This year, he led his school to the Community College World Series.  Harper was ejected from his final game (which his team lost) after drawing a line in the sand with his bat to indicate that a called strike was actually out of the strike zone.

This brings more attention to the issue of Harper’s maturity.  Many observers say that Harper is quite immature and vain.  While I’m not going ton condone these behaviors, it is important to remember that he’s just 17.  Think back to high school – was the star athlete a bit immature and vain?  Did he grow out of it later in life?

Harper has always been the biggest star, and life has been a bit of a whirlwind for him.  On Monday, this will change.  A day after he is picked, he will largely be forgotten as the media flocks to cover Strasburg’s debut.  This should serve to reinforce the fact that he is playing second fiddle with the Nationals, not lead guitar.  Getting into the routine of a minor league system should also help him.  I am convinced that Harper will mature as he ages.

With all the attention given to the top pick in the draft, it can be easy to forget the other 1499 players picked in the draft.  I’ll give a nickel to the first person who can tell me the name of the player picked second in the 2009 draft.

Do you you give up?  It was Dustin Ackley out of the University of North Carolina.  Ackley was an outfielder for most of his career before being relegated to first base during his final season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.  The versatile Ackley is now playing second base in the minors.  So far this season, Ackley is hitting just .244 for Mariners AA affiliate West Tennessee – but he has walked 38 times in 49 games.  I’m sure Ackley’s numbers will improve by the end of the year.  Even the best prospects usually struggle a bit in their first minor league season.