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Word on the street says San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg should be the top pick in the June draft.

Word on the street further says that Count Scott Boras the Impaler, Strasburg's agent, might want $50 million for his rights, demands right up there with what the Red Sox paid Daisuke Matsuzaka to come from Japan.

$50 million! Whee, capitalism! And best of luck to the Nationals and team president Stan Kasten, who own the top pick in the draft.

Well, not so fast, free marketeers.

The wooing of Matsuzaka, as Yahoo! Sports' Gordon Edes wrote a couple of years ago in the Boston Globe, was unique.

As for draftees, MLB has a slotting system in place to limit what teams can pay them. The best Boras and the 20-year-old Strasburg could hope for, under the slotting system, is something closer to Mark Prior's $10.5 million in 2001.

Unless, that is, Boras intends to use Strasburg as a test case to break the slotting system so teams would treat entry level-players like six-year free agents.

Peter Gammons (he's the "word on the street") does himself some speculating in an ESPN blog post, which says Boras might want to make an example of Strasburg, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with a 74-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 1/3 innings for Tony Gwynn's Aztecs so far this season.

From Gammons' Insider blog:

... some club officials think that if Washington takes San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick, Boras will ask for Daisuke Matsuzaka money (six years, approximately $50 million) or take him to Japan for a year, a threat that may scare Stan Kasten into selecting a lesser prospect.

Kasten describes Gammons' conclusions (sub. req'd) as "silly media hype" to the Washington Post.

"We're certainly eager and planning to take the best player that we can," Kasten said, "and we know what number-one picks get, and we intend to sign our number-one pick."

The Nats, who are struggling right now, really could use a prospect like Strasburg. Would they pay his ransom, if Gammons is right about Boras' demands?

Is it just "media hype"?

And where can I get a Nationals hardhat?

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