The Aroldis Chapman Show made its small-screen debut today, in an intrasquad scrimmage. Things went pretty well — for the most part:
The second inning of Thursday’s otherwise meaningless, five-inning intrasquad tune-up between a team of Reds players in white pants and another in gray might have been the most eagerly anticipated inning in the history of the team’s spring training baseball.
That was when Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban left-handed sensation, threw live for the first time in a game situation. It wasn’t even a start – he threw the second inning, after Homer Bailey’s scoreless first.
“He kept the ball down, that was the best thing today,” manager Dusty Baker said after the game, which was won by his white-pants Reds 4-2 over the gray-pants boys led by Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet. “He’s making progress.”
Chapman threw 17 pitches to five hitters, and 12 of them were strikes.
Not all was good, of course. Yonder Alonso ripped a double to the opposite field, and Chapman hit Todd Frazier in the knee with a 95-mph fastball. (Frazier bruised his right quadricep, but it wasn’t a deep bruise; he’s day-to-day but, then, aren’t we all?)
Here is pitching coach Bryan Price’s assessment:
(Chapman) was impressive. You guys all saw it. He had a terrific fastball. He threw a real nice change-up to his last hitter for his final out. The slider is progressing nicely. With Frazier that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too good, a fastball off the back knee. But he was around the plate with three pitches. He looks live and is athletic around the mound. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t disappointed in any way.
Everyone, including Chapman, seems to be pleased with how his off-speed stuff is developing. I’m pleased, as well…but…
I really hope the Reds don’t rush this kid. Yeah, early returns are very promising, but I really hope the Reds don’t push him into the majors before he is absolutely ready. When he gets called up the the Reds, I want him to be here to stay.