While 2009 No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is set to throw his first pitch in a Nationals uniform on Tuesday, Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his Cactus League debut earlier this afternoon.
Appearing in relief of Bronson Arroyo, Chapman tossed two scoreless frames, allowing only one hit while striking out three. 15 of his 26 pitches were thrown for strikes. But what will really have people talking is the supposed velocity of those pitches.
According to this report by Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, Chapman’s heater reached as high as 102 mph during the contest, while he struck out Chris Getz looking on a 100-mph fastball. I’m a bit skeptical until I see more data, but as Keith Law of ESPN.com perfectly summed up following his outing:
Two word scouting report on Aroldis Chapman: That’ll work.
I’m not sure how much we can glean from a two inning appearance, but Chapman shouldn’t be discounted from starting the season with the big club. Not yet, anyway. We’ve heard Dusty Baker can’t wait to work with him.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.