Albertin Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz (born February 28, 1988) is a Cuban-Andorran Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. Chapman bats and throws left-handed. He is listed at 6'4" tall and weighing 185 pounds. He currently holds the record for the fastest recorded pitch speed in Major League Baseball.
After a failed attempt to defect in the spring of 2008, Chapman was brought to Havana to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro who gave him a conditional reprieve, suspending him for the remainder of the National Series season and also keeping him off Cuba's national team for the Beijing Olympics, but allowing him to return to the National Series and play in the World Baseball Classic.
A few years after Alexei Ramirez defected, Chapman successfully defected from Cuba while in Rotterdam, Netherlands where the Cuban national team was participating in the World Port Tournament on July 1, 2009; Chapman walked out the front door of the team hotel and entered into an automobile driven by an acquaintance. Chapman eventually established residency in Andorra and petitioned Major League Baseball to be granted free agent status.
On January 10, 2010, Chapman agreed to a long-term contract with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds announced that they had signed Chapman to a six-year contract, worth $30.25 million according to MLB sources. The Associated Press reported that the bonus totals $16.25 million, paid annually over eleven years, with an additional bonus if he becomes eligible for salary arbitration in 2012 or 2013.
Chapman began the 2010 season assigned to the Triple-A Louisville Bats, and made his professional debut with the Louisville Bats on Sunday, April 11, in Toledo against the Mud Hens, where he pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 1 unearned run, while striking out 9.
Chapman made his major league debut August 31, 2010, in the eighth inning against the Brewers; his first pitch was clocked at 98 miles per hour as a called strike (which was promptly tossed to the dugout by catcher Ryan Hanigan, to be saved) and in the same inning was measured at up to 103 miles per hour. In nine pitches he retired the side. He recorded his first major league win on September 1 after pitching an inning of relief against the Brewers.
According to MLB scouts, Chapman's fastball has been clocked as high as 105 mph (during the 2010 Minor League season), and in his second career appearance for the Cincinnati Reds Chapman threw a fastball clocked at 103.9 mph. In his first 19 career pitches, 10 hit triple digits and his fastball averaged 101.3 mph. He also throws a plus slider and an average changeup. Scouts worry about his control issues and lack of a solid third pitch, noting that these issues could affect his ability to be a major league starter. Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski described Chapman thusly: "There is no violence at all in his motion; he’s like the anti-Bob Gibson in that way. Just a slow beginning, a fluid motion, and BLAMMO the ball just fires out like the Batmobile rolling out of the cave."
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