Link Dump: Aroldis Chapman Edition

Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman is primed to be a hot topic this winter, and just like with every other big name free agent, the Yankees figure to be interested in his services. Let’s round up the latest news surrounding the 21-yr old…

  • Major League Baseball officially declared Chapman a free agent over the weekend, so he could technically sign with any team today, if he wanted.
  • Back in July when he originally defected, I asked Keith Law what he thought about him during one of his ESPN chats. Here’s what he said: “I talked to a longtime scout – I mean, been at this 40 years – in the spring who said he was the best young LHP he’d ever seen. On good days he’ll touch 100 with a slider in the upper 80s, but he hasn’t been that guy every time out – I talked to another scout who saw him last year, I believe in Beijing, who had him topping out around 90 – and there are all kinds of rumors as to why. The upside probably puts him into $40-50 million territory, if not more …”
  • Here’s the PitchFX data for Chapman’s start against Japan in this year’s World Baseball Classic. As you can see, he topped out at 100.2 mph, but it looks like he tired because his velo dropped after 40 pitches or so. That’s not a really big concern, no one’s in tip-top shape in March.
  • Clay Davenport at Baseball Prospectus used some historical data translate Chapman’s stats in Cuba to the low levels of the minors here, and while the 9.3 K/9 is pretty, the 2.5 HR/9 and 7.4 BB/9 are awful. However, four of his closest statistical comps (Brian Fuentes, Mike Gonzalez, Scott Linebrink, and Oliver Perez) have gone on to have varying degrees of big league success.
  • Chapman would probably rank as one of the top 25 prospects in the game according to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, although he wouldn’t supplant Jesus Montero as the Yanks’ top farmhand. No one tops the Jesus.
  • And last, but certainly not least, here’s a clip of the kid in action.

Getting to know Aroldis Chapman

Sheesh, didn’t think the news could be slow after three straight wins over the Red Sox, but it is. Luckily Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN penned a piece on Cuban defectee Aroldis Chapman, who literally walked out the front door of a Netherlands hotel in July while in town for a tournament. All the attention gets paid to Chapman’s triple digit fastball, but there’s more to the man who left his family and a child behind to pursue his dream. Make sure you check it out.