12/09/09 6:30 PM EST
Halos monitoring heralded Cuban lefty
Sought-after defector to work out for MLB clubs next week
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Chapman, listed as 21, defected from the Cuban national team last summer while it was in The Netherlands. He has hit triple digits with his fastball and complements it with a curveball and slider. As with most young pitchers, the unanswered questions focus on command and demeanor."We need to see him throw before we start getting extremely involved in that," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said. "The dollars are going to be significant. "A lot of people haven't seen him pitch other than in the [World Baseball] Classic [last spring]. So you've got to put eyes on him. We'll have somebody there. We've been notified he will pitch." Chapman worked 6 1/3 innings in the Classic with a 5.68 ERA. In the National Series in Cuba last season, Chapman had a 4.03 ERA in 118 1/3 innings. Chapman is regarded as the most talented pitcher to defect from Cuba since Jose Contreras did so in 2002 during a tournament in Mexico. The Yankees, who signed Contreras to a four-year, $32 million deal in 2003, are expected to be among the parties interested in Chapman. The Angels have their own Cuban success story in first baseman Kendry Morales, who was successful in June 2004 on his 13th attempt to flee Cuba. Signed in December 2004 to a six-year, $4.5 million deal that could reach $10 million with bonuses, Morales erupted in 2009 in his first opportunity as a full-time player. The switch-hitter batted .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs while improving steadily at first base, easing the sting of losing Mark Teixeira to the Yankees in free agency.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.