Scouts watch Cuban lefty throw
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
ESPN The Magazine
Fomer Cuban national team starting pitcher Aroldis Chapman threw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Houston in front of representatives from about half the major league teams. In the morning at the Baseball USA complex, the left-hander tossed two separate five-minute side sessions, throwing mostly in the 92-93 mph range and topping out at 96 mph. Chapman, 21, also threw his slider and changeup.
Among the team representatives who attended were Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, Los Angeles Angels scouting director Eddie Bane, Florida Marlins vice president of player development Jim Fleming, Pittsburgh Pirates international scouting director Rene Gayo, and Baltimore Orioles international scouting director John Stockstill, according to sources. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who are expected to be heavy bidders for Chapman, each had one area scout in attendance.
Several teams were expected to meet with Chapman after the workout, at the offices of his agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks. "I think it's important that he demonstrated that he's ready, that he's in shape, that he's throwing free and easy and that's what he did," Randy Hendricks told media outlets including MLB.com and KRIV-TV in Houston. "A lot of life on his pitches, threw real well. Not all-out, which is what we told the teams he would not do, but sufficient I think to let everybody know he's ready for prime time." According to KRIV, the Cincinnati Reds,
Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers also had representatives in attendance. "Everybody in baseball needed to see this and most everybody was here,"
Bane, the Angels' scouting director, said of the session, according to KRIV-TV. "He's a hard thrower from the left side," David Lakey, the national cross checker for the New York Mets, told MLB.com. "I think they said [he hit 96 mph on the radar gun]. That kind of arm is hard to find from the left side." According to sources, Boston is the only team known to have made an offer for Chapman, for $15.5 million.
But that offer was made a few weeks ago to his former agent, Edwin Mejia. In another development, Mejia's company Athletes Premier International sued Chapman's current agent, Hendricks Sports Management, Tuesday in Massachusetts state court. Mejia accused accused Hendricks of illegally interfering with its relationship with the pitcher. Mejia's company said it had spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars on Chapman's behalf. Randy Hendricks confirmed there are offers on the table for Chapman but did not disclose details, according to KRIV-TV.
Chapman, whose fastball was clocked at 102 mph at the World Baseball Classic this year, defected from the Cuban national team in July during a tournament in the Netherlands. Jorge Arangure Jr. writes for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.