Aroldis Chapman made a triumphant return to the Reds’ bullpen Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, earning a save and striking out three in his first appearance of the 2014 regular season. He issued a leadoff walk to Troy Tulowitzki in a 4-1 game but then rallied to fan Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau in order.
Chapman hit 101 mph on his final pitch, and 15 of his 21 deliveries were clocked at 100 mph or higher.
The fireballing Cuban left-hander suffered fractures around his nose and left eye when he was struck by a comebacker in a March 19 spring game. He showed no shyness on the mound Sunday. Here’s the final strike, courtesy of MLB.com …
Chapman entered 2014 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 324 strikeouts in 198 2/3 career innings.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.