You may not of heard of him, but I assure you, that by the end of the hot stove league you will. Everyone knows about Yu Darvish coming out of Japan and how he will command not only a huge posting fee but an equally huge salary to boot. The one who you might not have heard about is Aroldis Chapman a recent Cuban defector now living in Andorra.
As with most prospects coming out of Cuba, not a whole lot is known about him other than his smoking fastball, which has been clocked at 102 MPH at it’s fastest. This is misleading though as he may only hit that once a game. Instead his consistent fastball sits around the mid to low 90s. He is being hyped though as one of the biggest talents in the free agent class. Given that this years biggest names in the free agent pool are going to be Rich Harden, Josh Beckett and Brandon Webb. It makes a talent like Chapman worth a lot of money.
So what do we know about Chapman? We know that he likes lingerie models <link>, that his list of possible suitors includes Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Mets, Athletics and Cardinals. Seems to me that he would probably prefer New York, but Boston has a way of landing the big-ticket imports.
With all this hype, the one thing people fail to realize is that he doesn’t face MLB hitting on a regular basis. Or how about his career 24-21 record. Sure he has led the Cuban National League in strikeouts twice, but again we have never seen him on a larger stage. At only 21 he is an anomaly for a Cuban defector, as most defect well into their careers. Will he be worth the reported 40 – 60 million it will take to sign him? History tells us no, and at least one MLB Scouting Director has said that he would be better used in relief than as a starter.
As for his baseball cards, they are one of the more expensive cards not to have an autograph. His lower printed parallels are routinely selling for $100 – $200 and I’ve seen some go as high as $400. I also found a jersey card of him which is a 1/1, and it is already at $40 with nearly 8 days left, so expect that one to climb into the triple digits as well. Should you hop on this bandwagon now? I think not, but stay tuned, who knows how he will turn out, after all he is only 21.