Last night, I went to the Bats-Clippers game in Columbus, specifically to see Aroldis Chapman. It was the first time he’s pitched past the 7th inning stretch, and on paper, it was his best or second-best start: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 88 pitches (51 strikes). He left w/ 3-2 lead, which was later blown by Jon Adkins.

But to my untrained eye, Chapman has a ways to go before he can really help the major league club. (The “scouting report” that follows should be taken with a pound of salt, as I was sitting down the 3B line, and entertaining a 2-year-old most of the night. )

Chapman is largely as advertised. His throwing motion, if inconsistent, is very “free and easy.” He looks to be exerting himself only slightly more than Bronson Arroyo does, yet Chapman hit “00” on the Huntington Park radar gun at least once, and regularly worked in the 93-95 range.

Chapman’s slider was right at 83-84, and didn’t appear to be a consistent strike pitch. I guess, ultimately, only a couple balls were really hard-hit (though the Clippers did smoke some grounders right at infielders).

He had control problems at times – nearly removing Wes Hodges’ head on a ball 4, and making Carlos Santana(?) skip rope another time. There was also a ball that sailed clear past catcher Wilkin Castillo. One thing Chapman did nicely was recover quickly after visits from pitching coach Ted Power. That happened in both the 6th and 7th. Hopefully, Chapman is learning how to fix his own mechanical and focus issues. Chapman did coax huge double-play balls to erase Columbus threats in the 3rd and 4th, and used his exceptional pickoff move to end the 5th. It wasn’t the kind of dominant performance I was expecting, but it was effective.

The odd thing is that Chapman’s line could’ve been even better. He also had the aforementioned Hodges picked off, but Bats 1B Yonder Alonso couldn’t get the ball out of his glove when Hodges broke for second. Hodges then scored an “earned” run on Josh Phelps’ double. Phelps doubled again in the 5th, and scored the other earned run off a bloop single.

Chapman’s clearly very talented, but I’m very glad that the Reds are both playing and drawing well right now. Because I don’t think he’s quite ready yet, despite the impressive numbers. Anyway, on to a whole raft of photos after the break.

4 Responses

  1. beroader

    I was at this game as well, sitting along the first base line. I would have to agree with Chris’s assessment. Chapman has a sky high ceiling, but he needs to improve his control and be able to consistently throw his slider and change up for strikes. Otherwise, opposing hitters will not respect his off-speed stuff and just sit on the fastball. He was able to throw the slider for strikes some of the time, but never consistently.

    A couple telling at bats were from Columbus’ DH (something Phelps, I forget). He appeared to sit on the fastball and smoked doubles to center and right field. (Note: He was almost thrown out on his second double to right, which would have saved Chapman another run.)

    His fastball, though, was fun to watch. I watched the speed gun pretty consistently through the game, and I thought he was 97 MPH or higher most of the time. He would dip down to about 94 MPH, but most of the time I thought he was around 97-98 MPH.

    Additionally, he was able to pick two runners off base, though one, as mentioned above, made it to second on a drop by Yonder Alonso. This runner eventually came around to score with two outs already recorded. So my mental stat sheet recorded this as an unearned run. Anyway, the book on Chapman is that he is still having difficulty holding runners, so seeing him pick two runners off is nice to see.

    All in all, I hope the Reds resist the temptation to rush Chapman to the Major Leagues. It’s not as if they’re hurting in the starting rotation, especially with Volquez coming back after the All-Star Break. With continued coaching, and some Winter Ball, I think he may have a chance to start off as Cincinnati’s No. 5 guy next year and work his way up from there.

  2. RiverCity Redleg

    That’s a sweet ‘stache on Wilkin Castillo. I like it.