Perhaps it was only fitting that Daisuke Matsuzaka opposed team Cuba on Sunday. The nearly mythical Aroldis Chapman took the hill for Cuba facing a similar situation to that of Matsuzaka in the inaugural World Baseball Classic; the glorious unknown with a hype machine all to his own. Cuba’s Loch Ness monster displayed his excellent velocity and lack of control through 44 pitches.
Chapman’s debut on American soil was shortened by a patient lineup, forcing three walks in only two and a third innings. The 21-year-old left-hander will be remembered for his velocity readings as much as anything since he threw more than 70% fastballs and recorded an average velocity of 93 miles per hour. On his 12th pitch of the afternoon Chapman hit triple digits with a staggering 100.2 miles per hour. As the game’s announcers noted – in between giving us updates on Chapman’s LiveJournal mood – Chapman has apparently hit 102 miles per hour in Cuban competition.
If you’re wondering why I’m not discussing Chapman’s off-speed stuff much, that’s because he didn’t throw much of it it. Chapman’s slider seems to have potential with excellent bend. It’s simply a matter of harnessing control and command of the pitch. Something that may or may not happen. Below you’ll see a movement chart with each of Gameday’s classified pitches listed. I’m sure you’ll notice his “cutter” looks a lot like his slider, same with his “curve”, meaning there’s likely an error in classification.
A 21-year-old left-hander with an efficient pickoff move, long limbs, and probably not the best of instruction, Chapman certainly has some room to grow. Whether we ever see him in the American major leagues or not is unknown, but he’s certainly someone to watch in international competition.
That might be the best part about the WBC.