Has anybody drummed up the nickname "The Cuban Missile Crisis" yet?
Has anybody drummed up the nickname "The Cuban Missile Crisis" yet?
2010 Mock Draft Selections (picking for Rays)
Full Scouting Report of Aroldis Chapman
3/05/2010 2:30 PM ET By Frankie Piliere
Frankie Piliere is a National Baseball Analyst for FanHouse.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- We all had a pretty good idea that Aroldis Chapman had a world of talent. Besides that vague idea about him, however, there was very little known in the scouting community about the mysterious Cuban left-hander. That mystery was solved Thursday.
So, just how good did Aroldis Chapman turn out to be? Was he worth the investment? Many of those questions obviously can't be answered yet. But we now have a very good idea about what the Reds saw and why they shelled out big money for him. The reason was simple: the talent is as good as it gets.
Traditionally, you need to see more from a player than a short intrasquad appearance to write a scouting report. Without a larger sample size, it's unfair to make conclusions about what a player will be. But, there are always observations to be made. Here is what I saw from Chapman on Thursday in Goodyear.
Physical Description: Chapman's lanky frame has been one of the few not so mysterious aspects of the Cuban southpaw's game. His body is going to play a major role in how he develops long-term. This is a fast-twitch muscle type of guy, and he does what he does -- throwing in the upper-90s -- because of this long, lean athleticism. His broad shoulders and baggy jersey give him the appearance of a coat hanger, and you have to figure he will add some bulk to his frame, but his long limbs and athleticism are what make him such a talent.
Mechanics: There is nothing unnatural about Chapman's delivery. What you look for in a raw pitcher like him is any awkwardness in his mechanics. It appears that the Reds have not tried to put his delivery into a cookie cutter. They are allowing the imperfections in his delivery to exist, at least for now. There are problems and inconsistencies with his mechanics but nothing glaring that could clearly lead to injury or durability issues. He makes mistakes, but more importantly he has a smooth arm action and appears to be putting minimal effort into pitching, even though he's reaching the upper-90s with the fastball.
The inconsistencies show up especially when he throws his changeup. While he threw some excellent ones, he also telegraphed a couple of others. Overall, though, that doesn't represent a major concern.
Fastball: This is where the conversation will always begin with Chapman. Try listing the left-handed pitchers over the years that could potentially live at 94-98 mph as a starting pitcher. That's what Cincinnati fans should be excited about. The first pitch Chapman threw as he warmed up before his inning of work was 96 mph, and given the minimal effort he put into it, it really says something about his strength.
Following a warm-up session that saw him living at 95-97 mph with the fastball, Chapman clearly took his foot off the gas pedal as the first hitters came to the plate. That also revealed another layer to his game. Coming down to 92-94 mph initially, he showed the ability to spot his fastball exceptionally well. Of course, you don't want him sacrificing velocity, but this lull definitely exposed another positive aspect of his game. After surrendering a long opposite-field double off the bat of Yonder Alonso, suddenly the huge velocity numbers returned. He began sitting at 96-97 mph, reaching as high as 98 with plus life through the strike zone.
On a consistent basis, hitters had fastballs on them quicker than they anticipated, showing the late hop on Chapman's fastball. There are pitchers that have plus velocity, but the velocity does not play as well against live opponents. Chapman is not one of those pitchers. He showed that he can consistently put an electric fastball by the bats of big-league hitters. One side note: Chapman appeared to be more comfortable from the stretch at times and produced a little more velocity there than he did from the windup.
Slider: The slider is what's going to make it very tempting for the Reds to put Chapman in the show right out of spring training. Sitting at 86-88 mph, he has a true slider with two-plane break. The break is late and sharp, and if he can learn to locate it consistently, it's a nearly unhittable offering against both left- and right-handed hitters. He left a couple up in the zone, but when they were down there was plenty of flinching, check swings, and jelly legs at the plate. If he can refine his command, this is a 7 pitch on the 2-8 scouting scale.
Changeup: Chapman's changeup is the obvious surprise in his repertoire. Word was he had the fastball and slider, but the changeup is a revelation. He's going to need to be far more consistent at selling his arm action and staying through the pitch. He spun off a couple of them in warm-ups and lost them high and away to his arm side. He threw some outstanding ones on the edges of the plate against live hitters, however. All coming in at 82 mph, it's going to be downright unfair to big-league hitters if he can throw this pitch for strikes. It has the fading action and differential to one day grade out as a plus offering.
The Reds could put Aroldis Chapman in the major league bullpen right now and probably get some great things out of him. He'd have his bad days simply because he's not consistent enough yet with his mechanics and does appear to lack focus at times, but for the most part he'd simply overwhelm hitters on pure stuff. His repertoire is that dynamic.
That does not, however, make it the right course of action. Chapman has the makings of three plus pitches, and a chance to be very durable given his large frame and how easily he produces velocity. He should be developed in the minors for a period of time as a starter. Backing up third base, not getting lazy with his mechanics and learning when to slow the game down when things go wrong -- these are all things Chapman has to work on and struggled with in his spring training debut. He has flaws that should be fixed.
Let's look at the big picture, though. Chapman, at 100 percent effort, could be a starting pitcher with a 94-98 mph fastball, a plus slider in the upper-80s, and a plus changeup in the low-80s. With that type of repertoire, his tall frame, and his handedness, there is almost no precedent. Is he raw? Most definitely. Given his inconsistencies could he flame out? Yes. But, this is the type of talent you invest your money in, because it just does not come along often.
That was a great article OBM...
2010 Mock Draft Selections (picking for Rays)
Asked who had helped him improve his changeup after an impressive session facing live hitters for the first time in more than eight months, Chapman put his arm around Fossas and said, "My new mate here."
Chapman ready to take big stage
Hard-throwing Cuban set for spring debut
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
03/07/10 4:27 PM EST
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Much like the unveiling of a highly-anticipated concept car at the auto show, the Reds will debut their big and bold investment on Monday.
For the first time this spring, when the Reds play the Royals at Goodyear Ballpark, Cuban pitching sensation Aroldis Chapman will face batters wearing different uniforms and his stadium performance will be open to the public.
Chapman, who is competing for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation, will work out of the bullpen behind starter Bronson Arroyo against Kansas City during the 2:05 p.m. CT game.
"He'll be all right," Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez said. "He's been playing baseball a long time. It'll be exciting to see him and see how he does."
Since Spring Training has opened, Chapman has gone through the regular paces of any other pitcher in camp. The 22-year-old has thrown in bullpen sessions and live batting practice vs. teammates. He also pitched one scoreless inning against Reds hitters on Thursday in an intrasquad game that was closed to the public.
Moving to a bigger stage shouldn't negatively affect Chapman, as far as Reds manager Dusty Baker was concerned.
"If you've pitched in front of the world and you've pitched for food, you know what I mean? I expect him to do well,' Baker said on Sunday. "I don't think any league he's going to play in will compare to that, when you've pitched for food."
Because of Sunday's rainout against the Brewers, the Reds juggled their pitching assignments and briefly assigned Chapman to start a "B" game Monday morning on a practice field. Then it was quickly decided to put Chapman back on the list to face Kansas City. Homer Bailey will start the "B" game instead.
"We thought this would get [Chapman] more acclimated," Baker said. "We'll let Chapman pitch in the big arena."
Several members of the national media are expected to turn out to see Chapman's spring debut, which won't be televised. For months, there has been intense interest in the young and unpolished left-hander from Cuba, who is able to throw a fastball 100 mph.
Chapman defected from Cuba in July during a tournament in the Netherlands. After he was declared a free agent in September, numerous teams watched him work out and the bidding for his services was brisk. Quietly, the Reds remained in the hunt the whole time and shocked everyone when they emerged as the team to land Chapman with a six-year deal worth $30.25 million.
Cincinnati's front office has maintained that it will give Chapman a legitimate look for the fifth spot, partially depending on how he adjusts to big league life and American culture. Starting in the Minors is also a viable option. How he does in game situations will also play a large role in the decision-making process.
Micah Owings, Matt Maloney, Travis Wood, Justin Lehr and Mike Lincoln are also competing for the fifth spot.
Through the first few weeks of camp, Chapman has pleasantly surprised the Reds by being more advanced than expected. Many reports knocked his lack of secondary pitches beyond the fastball, but Chapman has shown great command of his changeup and slider and has repeatedly baffled the Reds' hitters that have stepped into the box.
"I feel good about the camp so far and I feel good about my condition," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I feel really good about the changeup. I'm working really hard on it and I think it's going to get better."
During Thursday's intrasquad, Chapman threw 17 pitches, including 12 for strikes. His only hit allowed was a Yonder Alonso double. Chapman twice reached 97 mph on the radar gun and dipped down with an 82-mph changeup that tied up batter Wilkin Castillo's bat into knots. The only mistake the pitcher made was nailing Todd Frazier in the right leg with a 95-mph fastball. Frazier had to come out of the game but would be OK.
Now, it will be the Royals' turn to see what they can do against Chapman.
"I've never seen him throw but he's throwing Monday and hopefully I'll get a chance to see what he's got," Royals first baseman Billy Butler said. "Not many people throw 100 miles an hour, let alone a lefty, so I think he deserves everything he got. That's an impressive arm."
The only member of the Royals that knows what hitters might be dealing with is catcher Brayan Pena, who is also a Cuban defector. Before Chapman signed, Pena caught one of his bullpen sessions in Miami.
Other Cuban Major Leaguers like Kendry Morales and Yuniesky Betancourt were also present and Pena noted that everyone was in awe.
"His fastball has got tremendous life and he's got pretty good control," Pena said. "I was so impressed. Kendry Morales was hitting against him in live BP and he was telling me that he hasn't seen a left-hander that throws that hard in a while in the big leagues or the Dominican or in Triple-A. He was pretty impressive -- he's probably 6-foot-4 or 6-5 and he's got pretty long arms and when he pitches, he looks like he's giving you a handshake. That's how close you see him.
"I hope he has a great career in the big leagues. He's a very good kid."
I believe today we see the 100mph heater, thats my prediction
Put this in the updates thread, and I will note it here as well:
For those of you with MLB Audio, the "A" game with the Royals (and Chapman's spring debut) can be heard from the Royals broadcast crew on mlb.com.
“In the same way that a baseball season never really begins, it never really ends either.” - Lonnie Wheeler, "Bleachers, A Summer in Wrigley Field"
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Soooo...2 IP 26 pitches 15 for strikes 3 Ks 1 BB 1 hit and no runs for Chapman against the Royals this afternoon.
Oh, and Fay just tweeted that a scout had Chapman at 102 and 100 during two pitches in the outing.
The 100 was registered on a strike three pitch to Getz to start the 4th per a follow-up tweet from Fay.
Last edited by membengal; 03-08-2010 at 04:23 PM.