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Know Your Prospects: Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Unsigned

with 6 comments

Oakland’s Matt Holliday, Boston’s Jason Bay, and Los Angeles’ John Lackey are all going to be free agents after the 2009 season.

The bidding war over them promises to be intense.

But according to some analysts, they won’t be the focal point of the winter.

That distinction would belong to Aroldis Chapman. Chances are you haven’t heard of him.

Chances are, you will.

Know the name.

Chapman is a 6’4″, 180 pound, 21-year-old out of Cuba. His fastball has been clocked at 102 miles per hour, both in the first inning and later in the game.

He’s a lefty. Yes, a lefty that throws 102 miles per hour.

On July 2, Chapman defected from his native Cuba during a national tournament in the Netherlands. He walked out the team’s hotel door and never returned. Yesterday, Chapman signed with an agent, meaning it’s just a matter of time before teams start negotiating for his services.

ESPN’s Buster Olney calls Chapman a “left-handed Stephen Strasburg.” Scouts consider him the best left-handed pitching prospect in the world. He is, without a doubt, the best Cuban player to defect since Jose Contreras in 2003.

In addition to his devastating fastball, Chapman throws, according to one his former general managers, a plus-slider and plus-curveball. Some question his mental approach to the game and American scouts do not praise his offspeed offerings.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Chapman posted a 5.68 ERA in 6 1/3 innings and during the 2008 Cuban National Series, he accumulated a 4.03 ERA in just over 118 innings.

Chapman should command somewhere in the range of $30-60 million. In 2003, Contreras was given a $32 million contract by the New York Yankees. Two years ago, with negotiating fees included, the Red Sox paid $103 million for Daisuke Matsusaka. Chapman’s final contract should land on the high end of that scale, as he’s much younger than those two were, he’s played on a big stage, and because of the tantalizing skill set.

So, everyone get used to the name: you’ll be hearing it often in about four months.

Aroldis Chapman: Cuban defector, owner of the 102 mile per hour heater.

6 Responses

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  1. The only pitchers to maintain a 102 mph fastball in the last 30 yrs has been Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan. Joel Zuyma can barley hit that without his arm coming off. How is he going to maintain that velocity? Flash in the pan if you ask me. Plus, Strasburg hasnt done anything in my eyes.

    Noah D

    July 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    • But still, you just mentioned two pitchers that did maintain such a high velocity. And to get that type of speed from a left-handed pitcher is something that, even if he happens to be a flash in the pan, you absolutely have to try your hardest to sign.
      And no, Strasburg absolutely hasn’t done anything. But even if you’re a skeptic, it’s hard to deny the upside of someone who has a 100 mph fastball and an absolutely knee-buckling curve. If he develops a change, he should be an ace. If he doesn’t, a #3 starter.


      July 14, 2009 at 10:12 am

  2. trackingback – Know your prospects: LHP, Unsigned, Aroldis Chapman… trackingback – Know your prospects: LHP, Unsigned, Aroldis Chapman…

    July 17, 2009 at 2:48 am

  3. […] Chapman is a 6′4″ lefty out of Cuba. His fastball routinely hits 100 miles per hour on the gun, hitting 102 in a Cuban game, but usually sits around 96 when he doesn’t rear back. He also possesses a two-seam fastball that hovers at 91-92. His slider is thrown in the low-80’s with a hard, glove side break, but he lacks control of his offspeed offerings. He also doesn’t have a true changeup. A full scouting report can be seen here. […]

  4. Not your best post. No mention of his control problems.

    Matthew Cohen

    December 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm

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