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On Chapman and Strasburg

With Aroldis Chapman inking with the Cincinnati Reds, both of baseball’s biggest pitching prospects have found homes for the 2010 season. Since both Stephen Strasburg and Chapman’s location is known, it makes it much easier to compare the two and evaluate when they should be drafted.

Chapman, a power throwing lefty from Cuba, is still raw. He will need to work on commanding all of his pitches, and no one knows just how long that will take. The Reds hope to fast-track him through the minors, but just what does that mean? Once again, not sure. My best guess is that we’ll see him in August and September, with only a 5% chance he’s up before the All-Star break (barring massive injuries to a huge amount of Reds’ pitchers). I’m really not all that impressed with or excited about Chapman, but many scouts are. Of course, who doesn’t love a lefty who throws hard?

Strasburg, the consensus number one pick of last year’s amateur draft, will likely be up sooner than Chapman. His powerful fastball (with good movement) is complimented by a sharp slider (some scouts say curve, but I see a slider) and changeup. Some scouts have said there may be some major arm injuries in his future, while others say his delivery is just fine. I’ve seen quite a bit of video, and I don’t see anything horribly wrong. He seems to open up a touch too early, but nothing that screams injury to me. I’d suggest he spends the first couple months in the minors, but it looks like the Nationals may let him run wild before that. I doubt he starts the season in the bigs, but he’s probably in the bigs a couple of weeks after he dominates in Double-A.

Both Strasburg and Chapman are going late in drafts (and not at all in a good chunk of drafts) according to MockDraftCentral. Chapman is currently the 70th pitcher off the board (284), with Strasburg as the 73rd pitcher off the board (301). Why is Chapman going so early? Strasburg is more polished and will be in the majors sooner, so I’d much rather have him. Guys like Francisco Liriano, Derek Lowe, Justin Duchscherer, and Brad Penny are going after the two young guns, and I’d rather have all of them. Strasburg is not a bad selection in the slot he is being drafted in, but Chapman is going far too high at this point. If you are in a keeper league, it’s not the worst pick in the world, but I think you should be able to get him later.