Friday, September 10, 2010

Aroldis Chapman's impact felt from Cincinnati to Cuba

Phenom could create more opportunities for fellow countrymen

Alden Gonzalez By Alden Gonzalez | MLB.com Columnist 09/09/10 3:55 PM ET

MIAMI -- His emergence from the bullpen last week brought great anticipation, high hopes and the crowd at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati to its collective feet. Then, his 1-2-3 inning, decorated with 100-plus mph fastballs and cartoon-like sliders, cemented an added boost and a deadly new weapon for the Reds as they continued their quest for the franchise's first division title in 15 years.

But Aroldis Chapman's impact could go much deeper than that.

Chapman, the towering rookie left-hander with an unorthodox delivery and a scary two-pitch arsenal, is 14 months removed from defecting Cuba -- where he left family and familiarity behind to do the very thing he's excelling at right now -- and has been the talk of baseball since that inaugural march from the 'pen on Aug. 31.

John Smoltz recently commented on Chapman's recent success on the MLB Network. Smoltz said:

"“His arm is legit. It’s as dynamic as any arm we’ve seen, especially from the left-hand side. But I don’t buy the radar gun, especially when it’s down in the zone. It’s going to read a higher number. … His spin-rate and his slider with a dot like that is so tight and so nasty that it really has the hitter more confused than anything else. You throw a 103[mph fastball] down the middle; enough big league hitters are going to hit it. I’m more impressed by his slider coming off the fastball. It looks the same and you can’t tell.”

Complete story at MLB.com

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