Reds sending Aroldis Chapman to winter ball to work as a starter

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Aroldis Chapman has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since debuting with Cincinnati in August of last season, but the Reds are now sending the flamethrowing left-hander to winter ball in order to build up arm strength to join the rotation next year.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Chapman will stretch out with some instructional league action before heading to Puerto Rico, with general manager Walt Jocketty explaining that “eventually we’ll get him up to five innings.”

Chapman initially started at Triple-A last season, but then shifted to the bullpen in preparation for a call-up to the majors. His upside as a starter is obviously huge, but given his problems consistently throwing strikes in short appearances there’s plenty of doubt about how his control will fare in a 200-inning role.

He’s logged 63 innings in 69 total appearances for the Reds, with a 3.27 ERA,  90/46 K/BB ratio, and .158 opponents’ batting average. Presumably the need to pace himself as a starter will mean many fewer triple-digit radar gun readings for Chapman, but if the Reds think he has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter it certainly makes sense to give him a shot at age 24.