02/24/10 6:15 PM ET
Chapman wows hitters in live session
Reds lefty impressive with fastball, secondary stuff
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
2010 Spring Training - Cincinnati Reds
News & Features
- Bailey shuts down D-backs to close out Spring Training
- Hamilton scores in split-squad action vs. Indians
- No issues for Arroyo in final spring start
- Reds planning final roster cuts Saturday
- Reds release catcher Olivo
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Chapman, who signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract in January, is competing with several pitchers for the fifth spot in the Reds' rotation. Because he pitched in isolated Cuba, very few have seen him on the mound save for international tournaments.The knock on Chapman in various scouting reports had been a lack of command and a lack of quality pitches besides his fastball. "I never really had a slider or changeup," said Chapman, who will throw live BP again Saturday. "The changeup is the pitch that wasn't efficient and I didn't throw much. Since I got here, I've been working really hard on it, and those are pitches I will be able to use." There are many ex-pitchers that washed out of the Majors because they only had 98-mph fastballs. Big league hitters can eventually catch up to those. If Chapman can command three pitches, his chance of making the team out of camp increases greatly. "It's when you get a combination of a guy that's a hard thrower that can command a finesse pitch like a changeup and has a power breaking ball [that you have a difference-maker]," Price said. "That puts you at a big disadvantage when he's got three choices, even when he's behind in the count. Today, he could have pitched with any of those pitches behind in the count." Through three bullpen sessions and one time vs. hitters, there have been no complaints about Chapman being unable to locate the strike zone. On Wednesday, he was adept at following a fastball inside with a changeup away. "If he can command the ball down in the zone like he did today, the sky's the limit for him potentially," Burke said. "Obviously, it's dominating stuff. If he's going to keep the ball down like that and get ahead in counts, what can you really do? As a hitter, you have to be ready to hit the fastball. It's going to give him so much leeway with the slider and changeup." Burke made the common comparison between Chapman and Randy Johnson, who could also reach the high 90s and intimidate hitters with nasty stuff inside. Burke played with Johnson on the D-backs. "When Randy could really command his fastball, what could you really do? You just hoped you ran into one," Burke said. "[Chapman's] slider to me was comparable. It was sharp and came out of the same arm slot. If he can get it in like that, as a right-handed hitter, the best you can do is hope to hit a ground ball hopefully through the left side. "I've been playing long enough to know a special guy. You don't need a radar gun to see when the ball is getting there. The ball was getting there. He's got a little herky-jerky to [his delivery], which is good from a pitching standpoint. It makes us even more uncomfortable."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.