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.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.