Washington Nationals’ phenom Stephen Strasburg returned to the mound in an A-league game today, going 1 2/3 innings with 1 ER (a homer) and four strikeouts. Strasburg threw 31 pitches with 25 strikes and only six balls, showing the sharpness that was on display until the injury that required Tommy John surgery occured almost exactly a year ago.

The top overall pick of the 2009 draft out of San Diego St., Strasburg flashed brilliant command with big-league stuff on his quick rise to the majors. In 2010 he made 12 starts for the Nationals with 92 strikeouts in 68 IP against only 17 BB. Strasburg posted a record of 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and excellent peripheral numbers, including a 1.07 WHIP and .221 BAA.

The Nationals have hauled in top-shelf draft picks in the last three drafts: Strasburg (2009), OF Bryce Harper (2010) and 3B Anthony Rendon (2011). If Strasburg can come through the Tommy John surgery with the same success that the majority of recipients have had over the years the Nationals could have three potential game-changers reach major-league-ready status in short order.