Two years ago Aroldis Chapman was a poor Cuban ballplayer who was left off his country’s Olympic team after being caught trying to defect from the country. Today, he is a rising star for the Cincinnati Reds with a $30 million guaranteed contract and owner of an MLB record for fastest pitch ever recorded. The only question about Chapman is whether he will be a starter or reliever for the Reds this season. Here is my scouting report on Chapman and what I think of his fantasy potential in 2011.
Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
Height: 6’4” Weight: 185 – Bats: Left Throws: Left
2010 Stats: 2-2, 13 Innings, 2.03 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 19 K’s
Scouting Report -- With just steady command, Chapman can have the best fastball in all of baseball. His raw tools are what you see in a once in a decade prospect, evidenced by his record setting 105 MPH fastball in a late September game against the Padres. His fastball resides in the high ‘90’s consistently and he has shown the ability to be around 102 MPH when he dials it up out of the bullpen. To complement his off the charts heater, Chapman throws a high ‘80’s slider that features sharp down and away to lefties tilt and break. As a reliever, these two pitches are plenty to be dominant at the highest level. As a starter however, there are questions on whether or not hitters will be able to sit dead red on the fastball and park it a long way from home plate. There are also some endurance and durability concerns with Chapman as a starter stemming from his lackadaisical approach to practice and workouts. The biggest concern of all when it comes to Chapman is his mechanics. His delivery can get sloppy and there are times when even he doesnt have a clue where his pitches are going. Major league hitters will force him to throw strikes and that could lead to some big innings whether it be as a starter or reliever.
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2011 Analysis -- Chapman’s impact in 2011 will ultimately come down to whether he breaks camp in the rotation, or is groomed for the bullpen. Either way he is worth a mid to late round pick on draft day because of the massive upside he possesses in that golden left arm of his. It’s most likely though that Chapman begins the season as the Reds left handed setup man, a role he will almost certainly dominate and eventually evolve into closing out games. The fantasy value of Chapman will not be realized right away however. He will begin the season working the seventh and eighth innings in a role such as Matt Thornton in Chicago. He will likely put up some gaudy numbers in this role and help your fantasy team in WHIP, ERA and especially K’s. It will be a month or two probably before he graduates to what his skills suggest and that is being the closer for the Cincinnati Reds. He’ll pickup a few saves here and there early on but the real numbers won’t come to closer to the middle of the season. So, don’t draft Chapman expecting him to make an immediate impact on your team because he won’t. But it's highly recommended that you make room for him somewhere, and stick with him through any early season struggles. The payoffs down the stretch will be well worth the wait.
Compare To – Matt Thornton, Jonathen Sanchez, Randy Johnson
Don’t forget to check out our 2011 fantasy player rankings to see how all of the off-season changes will impact your fantasy baseball draft this year. Also, before you draft be sure to view and printout our 2011 real time fantasy baseball cheatsheets. Take Fantasy Alarm to your draft this year and relax knowing you have all the information you need to draft a winner in 2011.
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