After thoroughly dominating major league hitters over the first two months of the season, Aroldis Chapman finally gave up his first earned run tonight against the Pirates. And it was courtesy of some unlikely contributors.
Chapman entered the game with the score tied in the 10th inning. He quickly gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Clint Barmes, who entered tonight’s action with a miserable .188/.211/.305 batting line over his first 50 games this season. It was actually the first hit Chapman had allowed since May 17, a span of 8 2/3 innings. Then Michael McKenry, who entered play tonight with a .207/.271/.326 career batting line, punched a 99 mph fastball to the right-center field gap for another double which plated Barmes with the go-ahead run. The Pirates ended up winning the game 5-4. Baseball sure is a funny game sometimes.
Chapman previously gave up an unearned run against the Mets back on May 17, but the Cuban left-hander had a perfect 0.00 ERA through 29 innings this season until McKenry’s run-scoring double. It was the first time he had allowed an earned run in a major league game since last September 10, a span of 35 innings and 29 appearances.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.