01/11/2010 11:45 AM ET
Reds sign pitcher Aroldis Chapman
Heralded Cuban lefthander agrees to 6-year contract
CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty today announced the signing of free agent LHP Aroldis Chapman to a 6-year contract through the 2015 season.
Chapman, who will turn 22 years old in February, was introduced at a press conference at Great American Ball Park. He will wear uniform number 54.
"This is a very significant signing and an exciting move in the right direction," Jocketty said. "We're building an organization that is going to be competitive in the long term. With the caliber of young talent like Chapman, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake to complement veterans Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang, we're very excited about the potential of our starting rotation."
Reds President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said, "I can't tell you how proud I am of everyone in the organization who was involved in this effort. The front office, scouts and medical staff did a terrific job in evaluating and signing this young man."
Chapman is considered one of the most talented pitching prospects in baseball. According to published reports, on December 20, 2008 he threw a pitch that reached 102 miles per hour to break Maels Rodriguez' record for the fastest in Cuban baseball history.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder was named the top lefthanded pitcher in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, and in last spring's World Baseball Classic he started Cuba's 5-4 victory over Australia and its 6-0 loss to Japan and Boston Red Sox star Daisuke Matsuzaka.
In July, Chapman defected from Cuba before the start of the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He established residence in the European principality of Andorra, making him a free agent eligible to be signed by any Major League team.