Despite the rainouts on Sunday, the Royals apparently will oppose Cincinnati’s precocious left-hander, Aroldis Chapman, after all on Monday at Goodyear, Ariz. There was a chance that Chapman would be bumped out of the Reds’ plans as the pitching assignments got scrambled but the word is that he’ll throw against the Royals anyway.
A fellow Cuban defector, Royals catcher Brayan Pena got an advance look at Chapman last January in Miami. That’s where the lefty was tuning up for the showcases that resulted in his six-year, $30.25-million deal with the Reds. Pena caught him in a bullpen session.
“His fastball has got tremendous life and he’s got pretty good control,” Pena said. “But I don’t know if Monday if he’s going to try to overpower everybody or will try to show too much. But everybody in baseball knows he’s got good stuff and his youth is what’s probably going to hold him down a little bit because they’ve got a big investment in him. But I think he’ll end up in the starting rotation next year or at the end of this year.”
Pena also saw Chapman pitch some live batting practice.
“Kendry Morales was hitting against him in live BP and he was telling me that he hasn’t seen a left-hander that throws that hard in a while in the big leagues or the Dominican or in Triple-A,” Pena said. “He was pretty impressive -he’s probably 6-4 or 6-5 and he’s got pretty long arms and when he pitches, he looks like he’s giving you a handshake. That’s how you close you see him.”
Billy Butler, who’s on the travel list to make the trip, was eager to see Chapman.
“Last year during the season there were a couple of things on ESPN we saw all the time about him,” Butler said. “And all this offseason he was throwing bullpens and everything like that in scouting events for teams. The guy got a lot of money so I know he’s got a good arm. I’ve never seen him throw but he’s throwing Monday and hopefully I’ll get a chance to see what he’s got. Not many people throw 100 miles an hour, let alone a lefty, so I think he deserves everything he got. That’s an impressive arm.”
Noel Arguelles, the Royals’ own Cuban left-hander, said last week that he hadn’t yet met Chapman. But Pena said some of the Cuban-born players were planning a get-together on Sunday in the Phoenix area.