I'll just start a new thread for this since there's probably going to be a lot of news on Chapman in the next few days and I'll try to keep it all on one thread.
Chapman continues to impress
By C. Trent Rosecrans, CNATI.com Posted March 4, 2010 6:39 PM ET
GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Even Aroldis Chapman is slightly surprised at how he's pitched so far in Reds camp.
After striking out two in an inning of work in Thursday's intrasquad game at Goodyear Ballpark, Chapman admitted he's doing better than he thought he might in the big leagues.
"I thought it wouldn't go as well as it has, but I have worked hard on my control and my command and it's working out pretty well," Chapman said, through an interpreter-reporter, Jorge Ortiz of USA Today.
Chapman said he didn't have any nerves on Thursday, the first day he's thrown in game-like situations in more than a eight months, but after a couple of early control issues, a double by Yonder Alonso and hitting Todd Frazier in the right leg, Chapman struck out the final two batters he faced, Ryan Hanigan and Wilkin Castillo.
"Chapman threw the ball great, threw it over the plate and it was live," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "If he gets the ball over the plate, he's going to be hard to hit. But he did keep the ball down, which is a big plus."
Chapman threw two balls to start off against Balentien, before getting the right fielder to foul off a pitch and then ground out to shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The next batter, Alonso, too the first pitch he saw - a fastball on the outside corner - the other way into the corner in left for a double. Chapman said it was a good pitch, but Alonso, who was also born in Cuba, put a good swing on the ball.
Frazier was then hit on the first pitch he saw from Chapman, a 95-mph fastball. Frazier suffered a bruised right quadriceps, but no X-rays were needed. He will be evaluated again on Friday.
With men on first and second, Chapman showed why the Reds signed him to the six-year, $30.25 million deal and why he may just have taken the lead for the Reds' fifth starter position when the team breaks camp in a month.
"It seems like when hitters step in there, he's real focused, he look great. He pitched me tough, real hard, sinking two-seamers and then surprised me with two cutters in that he could throw for a strike," Hanigan said. "To be able to throw that pitch to righties, or even lefties, inside for a strike reminds me of a guy like Randy Johnson. He's got the loose arm and he was throwing strikes. He elevated with two strikes on me, got it up and as hard as he throws, that's all he has to do. The velocity speaks for itself."
Chapman got Hanigan to swing at a high fastball for a third strike.
"I saw a lot of consistency in his delivery of both his fastball and his breaking ball. He was throwing two of the low, hard fastballs and two cutters right where he should have," Hanigan said. "That's just one at-bat, but to see the fact that he has the potential to control his hard pitches in and his off-speed pitches is outstanding. He's just got to keep doing what he's doing."
The radar gun readings in the park showed him throwing as fast as 97 mph, and he actually threw harder out of the stretch. Chapman said he wasn't worried about what the radar gun said, refusing the information when offered to him.
The final batter he faced, Castillo, had caught Chapman before, but said it was much different to face him with a bat in his hand, and something he doesn't want to experience again anytime soon.
Castillo saw the gas, but it was a changeup that got him swinging - a changeup that came in at 82 mph.
"It's nasty," Castillo said. "He threw me one (changeup) and I had no chance. Nasty."
From safely in the dugout, pitching coach Bryan Price also liked what he saw.
"Impressive, you guys all saw it," Price said. "It's a terrific fastball and he threw a great changeup to his last hitter for his final out, we know the slider is progressing nicely. ... I saw a guy that was around the plate with three pitches, his arm looks live, he's athletic around the mound and I certainly wasn't disappointed in any way."
Chapman will face the Kansas City Royals on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark, but he won't start.
"If we pitch him later, fans stick around and drink more beer," Baker said.
If he continues to pitch like he has this spring, there could be a lot of beer sold at Great American Ballpark next month.