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.

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.