Word is already out that the Reds are planning to convert hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman from a setup man to a starter this winter. Just under four weeks from the conclusion of the 2011 regular season, that transition is already in full swing.
According to beat writer John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Chapman is scheduled to make his first start in the Arizona Fall League on Monday.
The Cuban defector has already made one scoreless relief appearance in the prospect-packed AFL, and will pitch out of the bullpen again on Thursday before gearing up for his first lengthier Monday outing.
Once the Arizona Fall League reaches its conclusion, Chapman will head to the Puerto Rican Winter League to continue building the endurance of his prized left arm. The Reds are hoping he’ll be able to throw five innings — without feeling any kind of abnormal pain or discomfort — by the start of spring training in February.
Chapman, who’s averaged 98.2 mph with his heater since arriving in the majors in 2010, is expected to open the 2012 season in the Reds’ starting rotation. If he can’t pull it off, the “bust” label will be coming.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.