Strasburg following Prior's blueprint

Everything's going according to plan:

    Stephen Strasburg is one step closer to the majors.

    The Washington Nationals promoted the 2009 No. 1 overall pick to Triple-A on Wednesday. He will make his debut for the Syracuse Chiefs on Friday against the Gwinnett Braves.

    The 21-year-old Strasburg dominated Double-A competition going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts for the Harrisburg Senators.

    He struck out 27 batters and walked just six in 22 innings.

    Strasburg signed a record $15.1 million, four-year contract with the Nationals last year. Barring a setback, he is expected to make his major league debut next month.

From the beginning, it seemed to me that Strasburg would probably follow Mark Prior's path to the majors. In 2002, Prior started six games in Double-A, then three games in Triple-A before making his Cubs debut in late May. Strasburg's arrival in the majors probably won't come until a week or two later, in the interest of saving some money down the road. But the model's the same.

I know Strasburg's probably the most impressive college pitcher we've seen. But Prior was pretty good, too. In those six Double-A starts, he struck out 55 (and walked 10) in 35 innings, which compares favorably to Strasburg's line. In his three Triple-A starts, Prior struck out 24 (and walked eight) in 16 innings. Strasburg will hard-pressed to top those numbers.

And as good as he is, Strasburg isn't a lock to match Prior's numbers in the majors that season, either.