Nationals promote No. 1 pick Strasburg to Triple-A

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg dominated in Double-A. Now it’s time to see what he can do at the next level.

The Washington Nationals promoted their No. 1 overall draft pick to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday, keeping him on pace for a major league debut in the next month or so.

“We thought it was time for him to take the next step,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, “get to Triple-A, see more veteran, seasoned hitters, little tighter strike zones, that type of thing, and take the next step in his development.”

Strasburg went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts with Double-A Harrisburg, striking out an Eastern League-high 27 and walking six in 22 innings. He ranked first in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio and strikeouts per nine innings.

Even in Strasburg’s one defeat on Sunday, Rizzo said the 21-year-old right-hander’s stuff was “firm and crisp.”

“His confidence level is high,” Rizzo said. “He believes he could be pitching in the big leagues right now, and that’s the confidence level we want him to be at. But he understands we’re doing what’s best for him and what’s best for the franchise and the organization.”

Strasburg will make his International League debut Friday when Syracuse hosts the Gwinnett Braves. He will throw 85-90 pitches or six innings, whichever comes first.

The Nationals are being cautious with their prized pitching possession, who signed a record four-year, $15.1 million contract last year. Also, for contractual reasons, Washington can save money down the road by postponing Strasburg’s big league debut until June.

Rizzo said there’s no set timetable for the next move up.

“It’s always flexible and fluid. There’s no definitives,” Rizzo said. “It’s about the development of the player and what we see.”