Aroldis Chapman still struggling despite move to Double-A

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It’s time to check in again on Aroldis Chapman, who has been working to refine his command in the minor leagues for the past three weeks.

From Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer comes word that the 23-year-old left-hander allowed two earned runs in less than two innings Thursday in his first relief appearance since getting sent from Triple-A Louisville to Double-A Carolina.

Chapman tallied three strikeouts and threw heat as usual, but he walked two and surrendered two hits while throwing just 17 of his 37 pitches for strikes.

The Reds were hoping that Chapman would be ready to return to the back end of their bullpen after just four outings at Carolina, but he’s off to a rough start and could spend much longer at the Double-A level.

The Cuban-born Chapman yielded nine hits and seven earned runs in three appearances at Triple-A Louisville before the Reds decided to bump him down a rung last week in an effort to rebuild his confidence against lesser competition. He had a 6.92 ERA and 15/20 K/BB ratio this season in 13 major league innings.

What’s important to keep in mind here is that Chapman is not some cost-effective young pitcher. He signed a six-year, $30.25 million major league contract in January 2010 that included a fat $16.25 million signing bonus. The Reds have to get him right soon or risk blowing a major financial investment.