Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year-old free-agent lefthander who talent is as coveted as it is unknown, tried to dispel some of the mystery surrounding him earlier today at Houston's Baseball USA complex where he threw roughly 45 pitches for a collection of major league baseball executives.
"His delivery is better than what we saw him throw at the [2009 World Baseball Classic]," one NL executive told SI.com. "His delivery is a lot better and his control is a lot better."
The side sessions, which lasted about 30 minutes, featured Chapman's fastball, changeup, and what appeared to be a slurve ball with a 12-to-7 rotation. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander earned much of his stature in the free-agent market based on a fastball clocked as high as 102 miles-per-hour last March at the WBC. Chapman's representatives informed team officials -- which an SI.com source says came from approximately 60 percent of Major League clubs -- that he would throw at about 80 percent capacity. The executive says Chapman touched 97 mph on the radar gun with a four-seam fastball, which, the executive says "makes it hard to believe he was only throwing 80 percent."
While the executive noted Chapman's improvements in delivery and control (Chapman averaged 5.37 walks per nine innings in Cuba's top league, the National Series), he noted the pitcher's "limited feel for the change-up." He determined that Chapman's performance was "inconsistent," but improved from his WBC outings.
In his four years in the National Series, Chapman was 24-21 with a 3.72 ERA and had 379 strikeouts, 210 walks in 341 2/3 innings. But his electric arm, coupled with his projectable frame and left-handed delivery made him an instant commodity.
He defected from a Rotterdam hotel on July 1, on the precipice of a national team tournament in Amsterdam. He quickly signed a contract with the fledgling sports agency, Athlete's Premier International, before abandoning them in November for the Hendricks Sports Management, which handles Andy Pettitte of the Yankees and fellow Cuban Kendry Morales of the Los Angeles Angels.
Hours after Chapman threw for scouts, Athlete's Premier International announced it has filed suit against Hendricks Sports Management in a Massachusetts state court and "seeks to recover damages for Hendricks
tortuous interference with a contract, interference with advantageous business relations, intentional tort, and unjust enrichment." The suit says Athlete¹s Premier International paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to provide clothing, housing, and other business expenses for Chapman but does not specify in the court documents the amount it is to recoup.
A voicemail and email message sent to Randy Hendricks of the Hendricks agency was not immediately returned.