Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Future Superstars: Aroldis Chapman
We've done a few of these features now, where we (well, mostly (sic) up until now) feature an up-and-coming prospect to keep your eyes out for. Feliz brought the goods after being featured on this blog, Wieters struggled a bit in his first go around with the Orioles, and Strasburg is expected to dazzle next year with Washington. These guys are generally the cream of the crop when it comes to prospects and you can read about them here before they bust out in the Major Leagues.
Aroldis Chapman is one of those guys who is aways down the line, but who has absolutely electric stuff. This 21-year-old lefty has 'stuff' that has been compared to Strasburg, and sports a fast-ball that has been clocked as high as 102mph. He recently defected from Cuba and is currently living in Andorra. If you have a chance, read about his defection here, pretty cool story.
Chapman has been granted free-agent status by MLB, and as recently as last week was visiting with the Boston Red Sox. As many as 10 teams are thought to be interested in Chapman including the Yankees, Mariners and Tigers. According to SI, Chapman is in line to receive more than Jose Contreras was given by the Yankees back in 2002 ($32M) but probably less than Dice-K. Meanwhile, ESPN's Jorge Arangure thinks that Chapman may be looking for a $30-$60M contract.
Chapman is, by no means, a finished product. He's 21, he still has a lot to learn about pitching and that couldn't be illustrated better than by looking at his stats. Last year, pitching for the National Series team in Cuba, he had a 4.03 ERA in 118+ innings (stats found here) At the WBC last year, he posted a 5.68 ERA in 6+ innings, and that's probably the best reflection to-date of how he would do against an MLB line-up. He will probably need a couple of seasons in the minors, but think about facing a lefty who can throw 102mph...wow.