Contributed by Mike Gallagher
Aroldis Chapman pitched two shutout innings with one hit, one walk, and three punch-outs against the Royals on Monday. Chapman’s three strikeouts came against major league caliber talent in Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, and Chris Getz.
After Brayan Pena hit an absolute rocket to shallow left-center, Chapman struggled with his command and looked a bit bothered during his first inning of work. Chapman utilized his pick-off move extensively in an attempt to catch Kila Ka’aihue sleeping. Ka’aihue would eventually be caught stealing while attempting to swipe second off Ramon Hernandez. Chapman then struck out David DeJesus on a heater to end the inning.
Chapman’s second inning couldn’t have gone much better with just 11 pitches to finish the frame. He froze Chris Getz on a fastball for strike three, but the highlight of Chapman’s afternoon came against Rick Ankiel. Chapman had two strikes on Ankiel and shook off the sign from Hernandez (likely a slider), and just missed with an electric fastball. The Cuban Missile then pinpointed a beautiful slider to get the former pitcher out swinging.
Chapman is most certainly going to be a major force in 2011 for fantasy leagues, but will he be worth drafting for redrafts this year? Edinson Volquez is still going to be out for a while so Chapman will be competing with Triple-A star Matt Maloney and veteran Justin Lehr for the fifth spot in the rotation. Dusty Baker should give him the nod as long as he continues to flourish in Arizona.
AC has the misfortune of playing at The Great American Ballpark. That bandbox will be a thorn in his side when hitters get that 100 MPH heater in the air and it carries over the fence. However, with some movement on his four-seam fastball and a devastating slider to go with it, hitters will be baffled more often than not.
Chapman will probably be gone before the 150th player in owned in a keeper league and he will become even more expensive on draft day should he continue to impress this spring. The Cuban defector is a tremendous upside selection around pick 225 in redraft leagues. Once again, that price could go up based on his spring performance. I‘m buying, and this is one of the reasons why it pays to take hitting early and nice upside pitchers late.