A potentially significant Cuban defection

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Via MLB Trade rumors comes word that a 21 year-old Cuban pitcher with a 100 m.p.h. fastball has defected (source, in Spanish, here).
His name is Aroldis Chapman — a guy who, if he harnesses his stuff and
makes the bigs, will likely go by the name “A-Chap” — and he pitched
for Cuba in the WBC. FanGraphs’ R.J. Anderson broke his stuff down during the tournament:

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.

I think Crash Davis said it best: “Christ, you don’t need a
quadrophonic Blaupunkt! What you need is a curveball! In the show,
everyone can hit heat.”

Whether Mr. Chapman makes the show, then, will likely depend on
whether he can find that command and control Anderson was talking
about. Not that someone won’t give him a couple of million before then
banking that he can.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.

Rays activate Kevin Kiermaier

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The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.

Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.