Athletes Premier International - Aroldis Chapman Media Coverage
Selected Media Coverage of Aroldis ChapmanJuly-November, 2009Thursday, July 2, 2009Top Cuban prospect defectsBy Jorge Arangure Jr.ESPN The MagazineAroldis Chapman, a Cuban considered by many scouts to be the best left-handed pitching prospect inthe world, has defected from the national team, several sources have confirmed to ESPN The Magazine.Aroldis Chapman has a tantalizing 100 mph fastball, but also questionmarks about his other pitches -- and his maturity.Chapman, 21, walked out of his hotel in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where Cuba was participating in atournament, and never returned, according to the Spanish-language Web site cubaencuentro.com,which first reported Chapmans defection.
Chapman told the site he was still in Europe, but would not reveal his location for safety reasons."I walked out easily, right through the hotel door, and I hopped into a car and left," Chapman toldcubaencuentro.com. "It was easy. Now the plan is to sign with a major league team."A source said Chapman was scheduled to fly to Miami on Thursday.Chapman would be the most heralded defector since Jose Contreras, who left the national team in 2002during a tournament in Mexico.By several estimates, Chapman could garner a contract worth anywhere from $30 million to $60 million.Contreras, now with the Chicago White Sox, received a four-year, $32 million contract from the NewYork Yankees in 2003, which at the time was the biggest ever given to a Cuban defector."Without a doubt [he is the best player to defect since Contreras]," agent Jaime Torres said Thursday.Torres, who represented Contreras and is considered the top agent for Cuban defectors, said he has hadno contact with Chapman yet. Yankees senior vice president Mark Newman, when contacted by ESPN The Magazine, said its "safe toassume" the Yankees would have interest in Chapman.Chapman is not a complete unknown; he pitched for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic this past spring."This is shocking," one international scouting director said about the magnitude of the defection.Yet Chapman is still considered a fairly raw prospect. Though many considered him to be the mosttalented pitcher on the Cuban squad, Chapman posted only a 5.68 ERA in 6 1/3 innings during the WBC.Last year in the National Series in Cuba, Chapman had a 4.03 ERA in 118 1/3 innings.And though his pitches have been clocked at 100 mph, some consider Chapmans secondary pitches tobe only average. For that reason, many believe Chapman likely would have to start his professionalcareer in the minors.There also might be a question of Chapmans maturity level. Several times at the WBC, Chapman wasdemonstrative in his displeasure at the umpires strike zone. At times, several of his teammates had togo to the mound to calm him.And when he was finally removed in the third inning of a 6-0 loss against Japan in pool play, Chapmandid not look at manager Higinio Velez, running straight into the clubhouse without slapping hands withany of his teammates.Yet in that start, Chapman showed exactly why he will be highly coveted: In the first inning, Chapmanthrew a 100 mph pitch. Later in that game, Chapman hit 102 mph."I think the fastball he showed at the Classic was good enough," Torres said, jokingly.Chapman also appears to have the charisma to make him a star in the majors. During the WBC, heregularly mugged for cameras and always offered smiles at reporters, though because of Cuba teamrules, he was not allowed to speak to any of them."Im very happy," Chapman said on cubaencuentro.com. "Until now everything has come out fine. This isthe plan that I had and this was a decision I took. I wanted to test myself in the highest levels ofbaseball."Because its likely Chapman surrendered his passport to Cuban officials after arriving in Europe -- allCuban players routinely do so, prior to any appearance outside of Cuba -- he will have somecomplications in establishing residency.Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.Olney: A left-handed Strasburg
The most intense bidding of the winter will not be over Matt Holliday, nor Jason Bay. It will not be JohnLackey who is going to have the most bidders frothing after him.No, it will be Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year-old pitcher who reportedly defected from Cuba whiletraveling with the national team in the Netherlands.To put his talent in perspective: Some evaluators view Chapman as a left-handed Stephen Strasburg,who was the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft last month. "Hes pretty special," said one official.He has a fastball clocked at 101 mph or 102 mph, and a "plus" curveball and "plus" slider, to use thescouts vernacular.But unlike Strasburg, his market will not be restricted to the one team that drafted him. It may be aboutsix months before his situation is settled to the point where teams will be able to make bids, but whenthat can happen, you can expect a Daisuke Matsuzaka-like feeding frenzy to ensue.Jose Contreras signed a $32 million deal with the Yankees earlier this decade, but he was much olderthan Chapman. Matsuzaka was 25 years old when the Boston Red Sox committed $103 million in aposting fee and contract to sign him. Chapmans situation is incredibly unique, because hes so young, sotalented -- all of his best years presumably in front of him -- and so well known among evaluators.-- Buster OlneyPasted from <http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4302422&type=story>Cuba acknowledges top pitchers defectionHAVANA (AP) — Cuba has acknowledged the defection of baseball pitcher Aroldis Chapman, a weekafter he walked away from a tournament in the Netherlands.The Communist Party daily Granma said Friday that Chapman has contracted baseball agent JaimeTorres to represent him. Cuba previously had said nothing about Chapmans defection, despitewidespread media coverage in exile-dominated Miami.The 21-year-old Chapman attracted international attention during the World Baseball Classic with afastball of up to 100 mph (160 kph). He is considered among the top left-handed pitchers in the world,and the best pitcher to abandon Cuba since Jose Contreras left in 2002.Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten or redistributed.Find this article at:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2009-07-10-3856199754_x.htmPasted from<http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Cuba+acknowledges+top+pitcher%27s+defection+-+USATODAY.com&expire=&urlID=406494782&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fsports%2Fbaseball%2F2009-07-10-3856199754_x.htm&partnerID=1662>
Monday, July 13, 2009Chapman signs with agentESPN.com news servicesST. LOUIS -- Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who defected this month after arriving with his nationalteam for a tournament in the Netherlands, has signed with an agent.Chapman will be represented by Athletes Premier International, which is headed by Edwin Leonel Mejia.If Chapman follows the path of previous Cuban baseball players who defected, he would establishresidency outside the United States and become a free agent, able to sign with any of the 30 majorleague teams.Chapman is currently in Europe, a spokesman for the agency told ESPN The Magazines Jorge ArangureJr."I am very excited to be starting a new chapter in my life and have Edwin and the rest of the team atAthletes Premier by my side to help me realize my dreams," Chapman said in a statement Monday.Chapman pitched twice for Cuba in this years World Baseball Classic.Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.Pasted from <http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4324481&type=story>Aroldis Chapman Finds A New HomeBy: Darren Heitner | 1 Comments
Last week, the world baseball community was abuzz about the news that one of Cuba’s top youngpitchers, Aroldis Chapman, defected from the Cuban national team and was roaming aroundsomewhere in Europe. Fantasy baseball players immediately jotted his name down, baseball columnistswere wondering what team he would be signed by, and I was trying to figure out which agency wouldget the rights to represent the Cuban defector.I thought maybe it would be my Twitter buddy, Joe Kehoskie. He is an established agent who, on hisLinkedIN profile, claims to specialize in the representation of Cuban baseball defectors. He hasrepresented more Cuban defectors than any other active baseball agent and ranks in the top threehistorically. I am not sure if Kehoskie was actively recruiting Chapman, but Chapman ended up goingwith a different agency: Athletes Premier International.API is a young agency. Three Co-Partners founded API in 2006, and they decided to elect Edwin LeonelMejia as the CEO. The website, which is less than a week old, does not list any client names and only hasone press release. That press release is the announcement of Chapman signing with the company.API is also on Twitter. Exactly a week ago, CEO Edwin Mejia wrote,WATCH OUT Scott Boras there is a new kid on the block and we coming for that number 1 SPOT!!!www.athletespremier.comA day later,paparazzi are no joke!!! Gotta be real careful from now on! The Bomb almost got DROPPED!!!! Staytuned… www.athletespremier.comAnd then on Friday,Ok this is just friggin crazy! Dudes are just out right trying to buy us now! Even the juggernauts of thisgame are getting worried! APII sense a little excitement.Pasted from <http://www.sportsagentblog.com/2009/07/14/aroldis-chapman-finds-a-new-home/>
Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman signs with agentPosted on Monday, 07.13.09Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman signs with agentThe Associated PressST. LOUIS — Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who defected this monthafter arriving with his national team for a tournament in theNetherlands, has signed with an agent.Chapman will be represented by Athletes Premier International, which isheaded by Edwin Leonel Mejia. If Chapman follows the path of previousCuban baseball players who defected, he would establish residencyoutside the United States and become a free agent, able to sign with anyof the 30 major league teams.“I am very excited to be starting a new chapter in my life and haveEdwin and the rest of the team at Athletes Premier by my side to help merealize my dreams,” Chapman said in a statement Monday.Chapman pitched twice for Cuba in this year’s World Baseball Classic.Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman signs with agent – Breaking News – Sports- MiamiHerald.com (13 July 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/breaking-news/story/1139686.htmlPasted from <http://www.cubaverdad.net/weblog/cuban-defector-aroldis-chapman-signs-with-agent/>Where In The World Is Aroldis Chapman?Posted Jul. 14, 2009 3:30 pm by Will LingoFiled under: InternationalWe’re still not sure exactly where Cuban lefthander Aroldis Chapman is, but at least we have narrowedit down to a continent.Chapman has taken the next step toward a career in Organized Baseball with the hiring of an agent,following his defection from the Cuban national team on July 1 while in the Netherlands for the WorldPort Tournament. Athletes Premier International trumpeted its "representation and marketingagreement" with Chapman in a press release on Monday.When asked where Chapman was and when he might sign, a spokesman responded: "Aroldis is currentlywith Edwin Mejia in Europe. We will announce where he plans to establish residency and his next stepsas soon as that information is available."Mejia is the founder of Athletes Premier International, and according to the company’s release is alicensed attorney in Massachusetts and New York. The agency was established in 2006 and "representshistorically underserved athletes from Latin America and the inner cities of the United States," therelease says."Aroldis is a tremendous person and athlete," Mejia says in the release. "He is the highest-caliberathlete to sign with our agency, and it is an honor and a privilege to help him achieve his professionaland personal goals."
The release confirms that Chapman is 21, though it says he was born on Feb. 28, 1988 in Cayo Mambi,Frank Pais, Holguin, Cuba. While that birthplace is consistent with previous reports, the birthdate is sixmonths later than the one cited in other sources: Sept. 11, 1987.The release says that Chapman’s wife and young daughter, as well as his parents and two sisters, remainin Cuba.It also includes his career statistics from Cuba’s professional league, Serie Nacional, where he spent fourseasons with Holguin: Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG 2005- 3 5 4.33 15 15 0 54 48 33 26 5 54 56 .240 06 2006- 4 3 2.77 23 12 7 81 59 26 25 4 50 100 .207 07 2007- 6 7 3.89 16 16 0 74 55 36 32 3 37 79 .200 08 2008- 11 4 4.03 22 20 0 118 109 56 53 7 62 130 .252 09 TOTALS 24 19 3.74 76 63 7 328 271 151 136 19 203 365 .227Pasted from <http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=5608>Sports IndustrialistsPublished July 15, 2009Names In The News
Thornton Signs Onto Baseball-Themed Film Based On "Three Nights In August"FX has ordered a "semiscripted comedy pilot" for a new show, "The League," which "centers on afantasy football league and tackles issues of marriage, friendship, parenting and love." Producers JEFFand JACKIE MARCUS SCHAFFER are producing and creating the pilot episode, currently in progress, withJeff also serving as Director (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/15)....Actor BILLY BOB THORNTON has signedon as a producing partner on the baseball-themed movie "THREE NIGHTS IN AUGUST," based on thebook by BUZZ BISSINGER that examines a three-game series between the Cubs and Cardinals in 03(DAILY VARIETY, 7/15).NOT KIDDING AROUND: In Pittsburgh, Jason Cato reports Penguins C SIDNEY CROSBY is the "latestcelebrity victim of impersonation," as a MySpace page titled "If You See Crosby" asked fans for "help toraise $3,000 for Phelps Park" in Minneapolis. The page promised Crosby would donate a "game-played,autographed stick" in exchange for a donation. But Penguins VP/Communications Tom McMillan said,"This is not Sidney Crosby. He does not have a MySpace page." MySpace removed the site upon therequest of CAA, which reps Crosby (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/15).SHARK BITES: Golfer GREG NORMAN said PGA Tour Commissioner TIM FINCHEM "must be using smokeand mirrors to keep [the Tour] buoyant." Norman: "Either that or hes working his way through a hugewar chest. ... I wouldnt want to be in his shoes, to tell you the truth." Norman said the U.S. economy is"dead and its a long time before its coming back." Norman: "Run whats considered a small to mediumbusiness like mine, in the [$200-500M] turnover range, and theres no incentives to grow. Its going totake a long time for business to recover and the rest of the world is going to recover quicker thanAmerica" (London DAILY MAIL, 7/15).NAMES: Cuban P AROLDIS CHAPMAN has signed with Athletes Premier Intl (API) for representation.Chapman defected from Cuba on July 1 and plans to seek a contract with an MLB club (API)....U.S.Olympic gymnast SHAWN JOHNSON said that a "book deal is next." Johnson: "Im trying to come outwith a three-book series for teens or kids" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 7/13)....The NFLs ProfessionalFootball Athletic Trainers Society has named the Steelers Physician DR. ANTHONY YATES as the topteam physician this year (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/15)....Angels Owner ARTE MORENO has paid$12.1M for a new home in Corona del Mar, California (OCBJ.com, 7/13).Pasted from <http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=archive.printArticle&articleId=131756> s]Thursday, August 6, 2009Updated: November 1, 1:05 AM ETNew world of hope awaits ChapmanBy Jorge Arangure Jr.ESPN The MagazineBARCELONA, Spain -- As he sits under a starry night on the patio of a restaurant, Aroldis Chapman playswith a small, hand-held video camera used to record his workout from earlier that day. He punches atbuttons with his unusually long, lean fingers -- which give the pitching phenom an advantage when
spinning a curveball. Once Chapman discovers how to watch video on the camera, he is awestruck bythe images of himself throwing a bullpen session. He stares for a few moments without saying a word.ESPN THE MAGAZINEWhat does Aroldis Chapman know about the majors? How will he be showcased? Read more from JorgeArangure Jr. about the Cuban left-hander in the August 24 issue of ESPN The Magazine by clicking here.Chapman then becomes enthralled with someones iPhone, his current obsession. He wonders aloudhow he can get one. Chapman swipes at the screen and asks if its possible to download a chatapplication so he can converse with friends -- new ones from Spain, and old ones from Cuba. He looks atthe iPhone with lust, like covetous major league scouts look at him."We can go to the United States and then buy an unblocked iPhone," says a friend. "But it will be a littlebit more expensive."Theres an inherent innocence and endearing sweetness to the 21-year-old Chapman. The world, so bignow since he defected from the Cuban national team almost a month ago, comes at him full force, likeone of his 100 mph fastballs. Yet he can hardly get enough of it. His appetite for all new things isimmense.Chapman often eats two steaks at a time for dinner. He plays video games until the early hours of themorning. He sleeps each day past noon. He enjoys going to discos. He likes designer jeans and big clunkywatches that conspicuously sit on his wrist like a wall clock.Hes awestruck by fast, fancy cars. He likes long, thick gold chains that hang around his thin neck. Helistens to his agents fiancées iPod for hours.Chapman is fascinated by technology. Mostly, he enjoys the things hes never had.INSIDER: MORE ON CHAPMANChapman is almost certainly the 21 years old he claims to be. He has the passport and the youthfulbravado to prove it."I want to be the best pitcher in the world," he brashly proclaims. "Im not yet. But with work I can be."Chapman wants it all and soon he will be able to get it. At some point a major league team will give hima contract somewhere in the $40 million to $100 million range. But will he be better for it? Will all thenewness the world offers overwhelm and change him?After failing in his first attempt to defect in the spring of 2008, Chapman on July 1 walked out of hishotel in Rotterdam, Netherlands -- where the Cuban national team was playing in the World PortTournament -- climbed into the passenger seat of a car driven by an acquaintance, and was whiskedaway. In Cuba, he left behind his father, mother, two sisters, girlfriend and newborn baby, whom hesnever seen in person. Immediately, Chapman became the most coveted amateur baseball player in theworld.In the ensuing moments after his defection, a conflict for the ages began -- the fight for Chapmans soul."What was I supposed to do?"The sun had begun to set on Playa Blanca, on the southeast coast of Cuba, one particular day in March2008 when two blue lights first appeared on the horizon, swirling in the air like beacons from alighthouse. From a distance, inside a small, shanty-like beach house, it was not clear what the lightswere, but even a first-time defector like Aroldis Chapman knew the blue lights werent a good sign.A few days earlier, an acquaintance of Chapmans from near his hometown of Cayo Mambi, in theprovince of Holguin, had approached him and offered a chance at millions of dollars, riches thatChapman couldnt even imagine. Chapman lived with five family members in a small, three-room housewith a roof that often leaked after a strong rainfall.
A family friend is surrounded by Chapmans family -- his father, Juan Alberto Chapman Benett; his mother, Maria Caridad De La Cruz; and his two sisters, Yusmila and Yurixan.Though Chapman was a budding star in the Cuban National Series for the Holguin Sabuesos and for theCuban national team, he was not treated like one. In Holguin, Chapman spent his off days watchingtelevision on his familys old 34-inch set. When he was bored, hed borrow his friends bike, a ricketything with bent wheels and broken pedals.Chapman comes from a humble upbringing. Juan Alberto Chapman Benett and his wife, Maria CaridadDe La Cruz, always hoped for great things from their son Albertin, whom they named after a Cubanmovie star. But mostly everybody called Albertin by his middle name Aroldis (pronounced "AH-roll-dis"),which had been an uncles name.Chapmans father was a boxing trainer and then later worked for the city. His mother did not work.Chapmans paternal grandparents had emigrated from Jamaica to Cuba in order to get a bettereducation, but even that move was not enough to turn the familys fortunes. The Chapmans, whose lastname can be traced to English settlers in Jamaica in the late 1600s, were not a prominent family.It did not take long for Aroldis Chapman to be intrigued by the acquaintances plan to defect.The man told Chapman he would need to get in a car, travel south to Playa Blanca and then wait in abeach house until nightfall. At that point, Chapman and several others, under the blanket of darkness,would get into a boat and sail to another country, toward freedom. From there, Chapman would be freeto establish citizenship and play in the major leagues.The plan seemed simple enough. Chapman said yes.But as the blue lights began to get closer to the beach house, Chapman could see that they weremounted on top of a white, boxy car -- the familiar Lada, an export vehicle from Russia, Cubas longtimeideological cousin -- often driven by police. Eventually, the police arrived and rounded up everybody,including the star baseball player."The first thing I thought," Chapman says, "was that my career was over."The police took Chapman to his house, but soon afterward he was summoned to a meeting with CubanPresident Raul Castro in Havana. Chapman did not know what to expect. He feared the worst.“I knew that if they didnt allow me to play anymore, I would leave Cuba immediately. I mean what was Isupposed to do? Baseball is the only thing I know.” -- Aroldis Chapman, after his first attempt to defect was thwarted"I knew that if they didnt allow me to play anymore, I would leave Cuba immediately," Chapman says. "Imean, what was I supposed to do? Baseball is the only thing I know."Instead, Chapman got a conditional reprieve. Castro suspended Chapman for the remainder of theNational Series season and also kept him off Cubas national team for the Beijing Olympics. Butsurprisingly, Chapman was allowed to return to the National Series this season and rejoin the nationalteam in time for the World Baseball Classic.
No official reason was given for the decision, though its widely believed that Castro, and his brotherFidel -- both from Holguin -- did not want to weaken their beloved hometown Sabuesos for too long.Also, without Chapman, Cubas chances in the WBC seemed dim. So Chapman was brought back.But that hardly appeased him. Though the government did not take away his career, Chapman did notemerge from the meeting feeling victorious. Instead, he became more determined to get out. He nolonger wanted to be at the mercy of government men who hardly cared about his well-being whiledenying him the things in life he felt he deserved.Soon after that day, Chapman made the decision to do everything he could to defect. He would remainloyal to the government and to his team until the perfect day arrived when he could leave.Perhaps it was then, before his actual escape, when the fight for Chapmans soul began."I might never see them again"In the spring of this year, the Cuban national team gathered in Havana to prepare for the World PortTournament, a minor event that would serve as a precursor to the World Baseball Cup in September inSpain.From the team that had been embarrassingly eliminated in the second round of the WBC, only fiveplayers traveled to the tournament in Rotterdam, and Chapman was among them. Aroldis Chapman, who pitched for Cuba in the WBC, reportedly has thrown a 102-mph fastball.Not that Chapman had distinguished himself at the WBC, either. Faced with a tight strike zone, Chapmancrumbled against Japan and allowed three runs in just 2 1/3 innings. But Chapman was still consideredthe teams ace and was scheduled to pitch Cubas first game in Holland.By this time, Chapman had no plans to pitch. He was going to defect in Rotterdam. "I thought that in that tournament it would be easier [to defect]," Chapman says. "There would be less security." After the incident in Playa Blanca, men often approached Chapman and promised they could take him to freedom. Chapman refused each time. Though hes not certain, Chapman believes the police intercepted a cell phone call from one of the 10 people scheduled to leave that night on the boat. Chapman knew that with more people involved in the plot, the better chance there was of getting caught. So he told no one in Cuba of his plan, not even his family, nor his pregnant girlfriend of two years, Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas. To fully mask his plan, Chapman prepared for the tournament as if he were actually going to pitch. Often during the middle of practice, Chapman wistfully looked at teammates and made sure to take in scenes that he could save in his memory. "I thought more about spending time with my teammates because I might never see them again," Chapman says. When the Cuban team boarded a plane for Holland on July 1, Chapmans stomach began to roil with nerves. He thought about thefamily he would leave behind. He thought about what his parents and sisters would think. Mostly, heworried about his girlfriend and their baby, Ashanti Brianna, who had been born just three days earlieron June 28 while Chapman was practicing in Havana.
Raidelmis and Chapman had met at a party almost two years ago. He had charmed her with a joke andthe two instantly became a couple.Chapman often calls her his wife even though they arent legally married. Chapman says the best thinghe could do for his new family was to defect."[The babys birth] helped me to become more committed to the sport," he says. "I had to double myeffort."What complicated matters was that Chapman was not sure what day in Holland he would defect. Sincehe had not confided in others, Chapman did not have a solid plan.The team passed through customs after arriving in Holland. For reasons that remain unexplained, theCuban Baseball Federation did not follow protocol and confiscate players passports. Instead, playersheld on to their passports as they arrived at the Domina Hotel in Rotterdam. Chapman had his opening.With his passport, Chapman had two distinct advantages: He could prove his identity, and he could alsoestablish residency more easily in another country, which was a key requirement in becoming a freeagent.The Cuban team arrived at the hotel, had lunch and then individually posed for tournament credentialphotos. Chapman then went upstairs to room 227 to hang out with his roommate, pitcher VladimirGarcia."I started to think about everything, my family, the people I left behind, my friends," Chapman says. "Iwas thinking I would never see them again. Thats when I made up my mind."Moments later, Chapman told Garcia that he was Aroldis Chapman hopes to be reunited with hisheading downstairs for a smoke. Chapman walked girlfriend, Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas, and hisout of the room carrying just his passport and a daughter, Ashanti Brianna, who remain in Cuba.pack of cigarettes. At some point during his short time at the hotel, Chapman called a friend with whomhe had not spoken in some time, but whom he knew would be in Holland for the tournament. The friendtold Chapman that he and another person would be waiting in a car outside the hotel.Upon getting to the lobby, Chapman, expecting a crowd, noticed there was nobody to thwart his escape.Wearing a blue polo and blue, standard-issue adidas warm-up pants, Chapman then waited five minutes for his friends to arrive, walked out the hotel door without any interference, and hopped into the car. It took two days for Chapman, with the whole baseball world wondering where he was, to get the nerve to call his girlfriend from Holland. Raidelmis worried she would never see Chapman again. He reassured her they would someday be reunited. Chapman did not have the courage to speak to his parents until the day after he had spoken to his girlfriend. "They did feel a little upset because of what I had done, but if I was fine, they were going to be fine,"Chapman says.Though his nerves still rankled him, Chapman spent his first four days of freedom partying inAmsterdam. The third day after Chapmans defection, Pedro*, a childhood friend from Cuba who wasnow living in the United States, arrived in Holland. Pedro was a junior college player who was beingadvised by Edwin Leonel Mejia, an agent with the relatively new firm of Athletes Premier International.Mejia arrived on Chapmans fourth day in Holland. On that day, Chapman signed a contract with Mejia,who was then certified by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The next day, Chapman, Mejia, Pedro, Pedros father (who also knew Chapman) and a bodyguardsqueezed into a car and drove 22 hours straight through France to get to Barcelona, stopping only formeals.What a sight it was for people along the French countryside to see dark-skinned Latino men hop out of acar to ask for a place to eat. Chapman chuckles at the thought of it. For those precious moments,freedom tasted like a baguette.It was official: Chapman was a free agent."It almost doesnt seem real"A small, gray sedan crackles onto the gravel parking lot of the Viladecans Baseball Stadium, a formerOlympic stadium in a Barcelona suburb, on a late July afternoon. Three men are packed into thebackseat. A husky man is driving the car. From the front passenger seat, Chapman emerges, listening toan iPod.Chapman travels with the same group of people every day: Mejia, Pedro, Pedros father and abodyguard the group sarcastically calls "GPS" because of his tendency to frequently get lost. Its a tight-knit group -- all of them are Cuban, except for Mejia -- though outside forces are already threatening tobreak up this entourage.A few days before ESPNs visit to Barcelona, an agents representative arrived at Chapmans workoutand tried to slip the pitcher a note. It was the first time an agent had been bold enough to sendsomeone in person to speak to Chapman. Usually, agents or one of their minions call one of Chapmansfriends. So far, Chapman has spurned all overtures from other agents and he promises to remain loyal toMejia.Aroldis Chapman is confident that he will be a successful major league pitcher.Friends say loyalty is one of Chapmans best virtues. The first phone call Chapman made after hisdefection was to Pedro."It almost doesnt seem real hes here," Pedro says.In fact, it was Pedro who first convinced Chapman to play organized baseball. One day Pedros teamneeded a first baseman, so he called Chapman, who until then had been a boxer."Hes loved baseball ever since," Pedro says.
Chapman trusts his friend unconditionally. The two are rarely apart. Without Pedros endorsement,Chapman would have never picked Mejia, who has never represented a player on a major league teams40-man roster. Chapmans relationship with Mejia seems safe as long as Pedro remains loyal to Mejia.To protect Chapman, and really to protect himself as well, Mejia decided not to move Chapman to theDominican Republic, where most defectors usually go."We didnt want him bothered," Mejia says. "We didnt want him harassed. We didnt want thepoachers to be bothering him."But temptation is everywhere. Chapman mostly practices in isolation, yet people around ViladecansStadium began to show up once they found out ESPN was attending the workout. Chapman and Pedroquickly become distracted by two girls who end up in the dugout. The two Cubans chuckle and makejokes, like two underclassmen at a high school dance.A year from now, there will be more people, more poachers, more girls, more money, more toys, morecars, more food, more everything. Really, the fight for Chapmans soul has only just begun.Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.*Editors Note: Pedros name has been changed to protect his family in Cuba.Pasted from <http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4381376&type=story> s]Tuesday, August 11, 2009Updated: August 13, 1:39 PM ETNeed a LHP who throws 100 MPH?By Jorge Arangure Jr.ESPN The MagazineThis story appears in the August 24 issue of ESPN The Magazine. To see Outside the Lines coverage ofChapman -- also by Jorge Arangure Jr -- please click here.A black sport utility vehicle darts in and out of Barcelona traffic, maneuvering around pedestrians andracing past aggressive taxis during rush hour. Inside the SUV, Aroldis Chapman looks like a bobbleheadas he bounces with each hard turn. He stares out the window at this majestic city, his home since hedefected from Cuba last month. One particular structure, Las Arenas in Plaza de España -- the famedbullring in the middle of the city --piques his curiosity.When he hears that this relic is being transformed into an entertainment complex, Chapman nods. He,too, is undergoing a transformation: from a poor amateur baseball player to an iPod-wearing, hip-hop-loving, commercial entity complete with entourage and publicity firm."Is this the place where they have the running of the bulls?" Chapman asks in Spanish. Hes told thathappens in Pamplona. "Man, I dont understand that," he says, shaking his head. "Those people arecrazy." Someone in the car jokes that perhaps Chapman is loco for leaving Cubas league, the SerieNacional, to face the likes of Albert Pujols, who may be even scarier than a bull. "Pujols?" he says. "Whois that?"When asked which big leaguers hes heard of, Chapman names David Ortiz, Manny Ramírez, AlfonsoSoriano, Alex Rodriguez -- and theres one other. "Whats the name of that Yankees shortstop?" he says.Chapman, who had little TV access to professional games back in Cuba, knows even less about majorleague baseball than major league baseball knows about him. The one thing MLB scouts do know is that
this 21-year-old prospect can fling a baseball harder than any other lefthanded pitcher in the world. Likethis years No. 1 draft pick, righthander Stephen Strasburg, Chapman has been clocked at an astounding102 mph, which could earn him the largest contract ever given to a Cuban defector. "Hes not majorleague ready," says one National League scout whos seen Chapman several times. "At the same time,how many guys throw 100 mph? And for-real 100 mph, not just because the scoreboard is jacked."Chapmans handlers in the nascent sports agency Athletes Premier International see him as atranscendent figure, a player for the ages who can spark interest in America, Latin America and perhapseven in Europe, which is likely to become his new home. Edwin Leonel Mejia, Chapmans agent, wontconfirm that the pitcher will establish residency in Barcelona, but since thats where he lives and trains,it seems like a safe assumption. Hes been here since he walked out of the Cuban national teams hotelduring a tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.Prior to a TV taping with ESPN in late July, Chapmans first major interview since leaving Cuba, Mejiareminds him to mention his love of soccer superpower FC Barcelona, envisioning a future commercialpartnership. One of Chapmans first purchases after arriving in town was a Barcelona jersey with hisname and his No. 52 on the back. "I really like FC Barcelona and athletes like Messi," Chapman says witha toothy grin when the camera rolls. "Id really like to meet them."The marketing of Aroldis Chapman, to major league teams and to the world, has begun.Aroldis Chapman works on his form.On the outskirts of Barcelona, Chapman starts a bullpen session at Viladecans Baseball Stadium, whereCubas gold medal-winning team played in the 1992 Olympics. Its now the home of a local semipro club.The kid is a sight to see, a 64", 185-pound bundle of elongated fingers, arms and legs. The baseballcomes out of his hand like a rock snapped out of a slingshot, pounding the catchers glove with greatforce, causing a loud "thwack" that echoes throughout the empty stadium.At this point, the baseball world mostly considers Chapman a thrower rather than a pitcher. During theworkout, his fastballs land in the middle of the strike zone, but when he begins to unleash his breakingstuff, several coaches move away from the backstop to avoid getting hit by balls bouncing off thecatcher. The curveballs that do hit their target, however, drop several inches. Like many Cuban pitchers,Chapman has a vast repertoire: two-seam fastball, cut fastball, curve, slider, splitter and two or three
kinds of changeups. But unlike many Cuban pitchers who throw a lot of junk (see: Liván and OrlandoHernández), the flamethrowing Chapman needs to master only one or two off-speed pitches to beeffective in the majors. Right now scouts rate his secondary pitches as merely average, which isunderstandable considering he began to throw them less than five years ago.As a young kid, Chapman was a boxer, trained by his father. He started playing baseball at age 11 andwas a first baseman until 15, when his team one day needed someone to take the mound. He rarelyplayed first base again. "In Cuba, the first thing they teach you is how to throw the fastball," he says. "Iwas a fast learner."By age 17, Chapman was Cubas best pitching prospect. His coaches spent a lot of time developing histalent, and he became a regular on the national team and a star in the Serie Nacional. Though his careerrecord was a tepid 24-21, Chapman twice led the league in strikeouts. But his ERA has jumped the pastthree seasons, from a career-best 2.77 in 2006-07 to 3.94 last season. "He is a premium arm but doesntyet have the polish to be a star in the major leagues, which is what you would be paying for," says oneAmerican League team executive. "His command would have to dramatically improve. He can do that,but there will be no more blowing away every hitter who comes to the plate."Still, Chapmans velocity is intoxicating. Nearly all of baseballs big-money teams -- the Yankees, Red Sox,Mets, Angels, Dodgers and Cubs -- figure to at least kick the tires once he officially becomes a free agent.One high-ranking executive of a club that has interest says that before entering the bidding hell need alot more information, including Chapmans injury history, maturity level, family situation and proof ofage. And, of course, big league scouts want to see him throw in person.Team Chapman says that MLB reps can visit him in Barcelona, but that he doesnt plan to work out forthem. And Mejia, a relative unknown who hooked up with Chapman post-defection through a Cubanfriend, says the phenom doesnt want to start his career in the minors. But if a club is to cough up $30million or more, Team Chapman may have to adjust. "I would be shocked if people did not have to seethis guy pitch before they invested," says an AL executive. "We dont exactly have access to scout thegames in Cuba. So why would he not want to throw?" Thats a question that will need to be answered.As for the other issues, Chapman has a passport that lists him as 21, and he claims to have never beenseriously injured. His four years in the Serie Nacional indicate a healthy run, with his innings increasingto a high of 132e last season. But his maturity level was questioned after his meltdown against Japan inthis years World Baseball Classic (three runs, three walks in just 2e innings). Several times, he walkedaround the mound in anger after ball-strike calls. "I wasnt accustomed to this style of umpiring,"Chapman says. "I think Cuban ballplayers have one defect that we must improve: We argue too muchabout pitches."Even more complicated than his demeanor is Chapmans family situation. Back in Cuba he has anewborn daughter, Ashanti Brianna, with his girlfriend of two years, Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas.The baby was born on June 28, three days before Chapman defected, and he has never met her. He alsoleft behind his parents, Juan Alberto Chapman Benett and Maria Caridad De La Cruz, and two sisters,Yusmila and Yurixan. "I miss them a great deal, but you have to know how to recover and move on,"says Aroldis, who hopes one day to be reunited with all of them. "I took this step and had to moveforward. I cant go back."
Chapman could become MLBs nextsuperstar -- or his story could silently fadeaway.On July 1, the day Chapman defected, the Cuban national team arrived in Rotterdam, passed throughcustoms and headed to the Domina Hotel shortly after 1 p.m. For reasons unknown, the Cuban BaseballFederation did not confiscate passports. "Allowing players to hold their passports all the way to thehotel is a major departure from prior Cuban security protocol," says Joe Kehoskie, an agent who hasrepresented several Cuban players. "In the past, they would be forced to surrender their passports assoon as they cleared customs."Once at the hotel, the team had lunch. At around 2 p.m., Chapman went to Room 227, said hello toroommate Vladimir García and told him he was going down to the lobby to have a cigarette. The entiretime, Chapman kept his passport in his pocket. Because this was a minor tournament, he figuredsecurity would be minimal, but being able to keep his passport was an unexpected bonus.This wasnt his first attempt to defect. In March 2008, Chapman was caught in Cuba before he could geton a boat. As punishment, he was left off the Olympic team that won the silver medal in Beijing. But inRotterdam, there was no extra security monitoring him. After five minutes in the lobby, he simplywalked out the door, got into the passenger seat of a car (he wont say who was driving) and sped awaya free man. Days later, Chapman, Mejia and two other friends drove 15 hours to Barcelona. With hispassport, Chapman was easily able to pass from the Netherlands to Belgium to France to Spain. "I thinkGod helped me because they didnt collect the passports," he says.Chapmans passport, issued on April 18, 2007, appears authentic. Its a road map of his playing career. Agreen sheet of paper affixed inside reflects his participation in the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil,when he debuted for the Cuban national team. And theres a red-white-and-blue sheet issued on Feb.17, 2009, that reads: "09 World Baseball Classic. Cuba Delegation (Team Member)." Most important forChapman, the passport should expedite the process for his free agency.For now, the man without a country practices two hours a day, five days a week at Viladecans Stadium.When he was with the Cuban national team, Chapman and his teammates did calisthenics in achoreographed synchronicity worthy of a Broadway musical. On this July day at Viladecans, he stretchessolo -- a striking scene that truly demonstrates how he no longer represents anyone or anything otherthan himself.
Never before has such a prospect from Cuba arrived at such a tender age. For that reason alone,Chapman could land a deal that eclipses countryman José Contreras $32 million contract, the record fora Cuban player. When the Yankees gave Contreras that deal, in February 2003, he was much moreestablished than Chapman. Contreras was also 31 and past his prime.Although Chapman considers himself a shy, introverted person, his charisma is obvious, which couldlead to endorsement opportunities. During the WBC, he wasnt allowed to give interviews, but he wouldsmile at reporters and sign autographs for fans. In Barcelona, though nervous at first, he quickly becamecomfortable in front of a camera. He is always polite, thanks people for their time and shakes theirhands.Very soon Chapman will gain legal residency outside the United States, which will allow Mejia to applyformally for free agency. After an MLB investigation confirms Chapmans age and residency, Mejia canthen inform all 30 teams of the pitchers availability -- and the bidding will begin. If all goes well, perhapsas early as next season Chapman will pitch against the likes of Pujols, Big Papi and, yes, even thatshortstop on the Yankees. Or maybe hell be Derek Jeters teammate. No matter where Chapman windsup, he has one clear goal in mind:"I want to be the best pitcher in the world."Pasted from <http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4390829&type=story> ]Friday, July 17, 2009Updated: July 18, 2:32 PM ETCuban shopping spreeFor the past several years, the Cuban representation market has been dominated by agent Jaime Torres,whose clients include Alexei Ramirez and Jose Contreras, among others. And although Torres is still thebiggest name, there are others appearing on the scene eager to challenge him.Athletes Premier Internationals recent announcement that they are representing highly touted pitcherAroldis Chapman, a Cuban defector, surely makes them a formidable challenger. But also add to that lista fledgling group of friends in South Florida, including former New York Met Jorge Luis Toca, whoformed the Prestige Management Firm.Their first big-name Cuban client is first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz, a former National Series all-star. Theirclientele has expanded to also represent: Yadil Mujica, 24, SS: Played in the National Series for the past five seasons. Hit .358 lastyear. Israel Soto, 22, RHP: A hard thrower whose fastball has been clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s, though one talent evaluator said Soto has yet to show much command with that fastball. Luis Fonseca, 24, CF: Good overall athlete who hit .287 last year in the National Series. Joan Chaviano, 21, C: Defensive-minded catcher who hit .234 last year. Mayke Reyes, 22, CF: Has played mostly in Cubas developmental league. Reinier Roll, 22, RHP: A talented, hard thrower (mid-90s), whose skills have yet to matchhis ERA (4.25 last year in National Series). An evaluator said Roll had a "great arm." Adalberto Ibarra, 22, Utility: Hit .341 last year in National Series while playing severalpositions.
All of Prestiges players are still in Miami, though they are expected to soon head to the DominicanRepublic to begin the process of becoming free agents.Prestige began by training several players, including Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Noel Arguelles and recentBoston signee Jose Iglesias, for Torres. Soon after training Arguelles and Iglesias, the group decided toform its own agency. Joel Bello, one of the groups founders, said theyve steered away from trying torepresent any of Torres clients, including Iglesias and Arguelles, who left Torres for the SFX agency.Torres has filed a grievance against the two players."Weve never gone after any player weve trained for anybody else," says Bello, who is also a policeofficer in South Florida. "I didnt think it was a good idea for [Arguelles and Iglesias] to leave Jaime. Ididnt see that as something proper. I advised them against it."The group now also represents outfielder Felix Perez, who was set to sign a $3.5 million deal with theNew York Yankees earlier this year, before being suspended by Major League Baseball for lying about hisage. Bello said Perez will work out with Prestiges trainers during his suspension.HANLEYS NEW APPROACHDuring the All-Star break, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez claimed to have become a more completehitter, citing his higher batting average (.346 this year compared to .301 last year) at the expense ofhitting home runs (he is projected to hit about five fewer homers this season)."Im hitting more with people in scoring position, so Im cutting down on my swing," Ramirez said.Yet a quick look at some metrics at fangraphs.com reveals that perhaps Ramirez is more lucky thanadvanced as a hitter. Ramirez is hitting fly balls at a higher ratio than he did last year: a .97 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio compared to 1.25 last year. Ramirez is also swinging at a higher percentage of pitchesoutside the strike zone (24.9 percent this year compared to 18.3 percent last year) and is swinging atmore pitches this year in general (47.4 percent compared to 40.9 percent). Ramirezs batting average onballs in play is also up from last year (.378 versus .332), making it likely that Ramirezs average is due fora dip in the second half.MIGGY CONCEDESIn 2006 the Baltimore Orioles attempt to trade Miguel Tejada to the Los Angeles Angels hit a large snagwhen Tejada expressed hesitation to play anything other than shortstop -- at the time the Angels hadOrlando Cabrera at shortstop. Tejada had grown up idolizing Dominican shortstop Alfredo Griffin andwas hesitant at the time to give up his beloved position.This week at the All-Star Game, Tejada, a free agent at the end of the year, reiterated what he first saidat the WBC earlier this year: Hes willing to play third base. Tejada said hed even play second base nextyear."Im in a better position this year [than I was the last time I was becoming a free agent] because Imgiving teams more options," Tejada said. "I can play third base or even second base."Tejada will surely have to take a serious pay cut from his $14.8 million salary, though perhaps hisoptions will increase now that hes willing to play somewhere other than shortstop. Tejada has neverregularly played another position in the majors, but he played third base for the Dominican Republicduring the WBC.Pasted from <http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4336299&type=blogEntry>BP Daily: Evaluating the next big thingAroldis Chapmans projected MLB stats dont justify his hypeComment Email Print ShareBy Clay Davenport
Baseball ProspectusArchiveTheres been another defection from the land of Castro. Aroldis Chapman is a 21-year-old Cuban émigré-- and were more certain about his age than we are for most Cuban players -- who walked out of aDutch hotel in July while playing in a tournament. Given the likelihood of a bidding war as frenzied asthe one that once took place over Jose Contreras, hes someone you should have on your radar; hemight attract as much interest as some top pitchers who will be available this offseason.Chapman is a bit of a string bean at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. He throws left-handed -- always attractive-- but what puts him truly over the top is that he throws 100 mph (and even harder). Over the past fouryears on the Cuban club Holguin, hes put up some good numbers: a 24-19 record with 365 strikeouts in327.2 innings to complement a 3.74 ERA.Stefan RuizAroldis Chapman can bring the heat, but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard.One interesting way to look at Chapman is through PBRA, a runs-allowed estimator called Pitcher Base-Run Average. This measure basically evaluates the pitchers rate of runs allowed by accounting foreverything he gives up or generates, interpreted to a league where the average runs-allowed mark is4.50. Chapmans PBRA is 3.81 across the past four seasons. Thats pretty impressive, but there is a big"but" you need to know when evaluating.Holguin is one of the 16 teams that forms Cubas top league on an island with a population of about 11.5million. Thats only slightly larger than the Dominican Republic (9.5 million), and about the same size asOhio. They may be baseball-crazy, but thats only about 1/14 the ratio between the U.S. population andmajor leagues -- 300 million for 30 teams -- and ignores the fact that MLB draws talent from outside theU.S. as well. Obviously, we would expect the level of play in the Cuban league to be lower than in theU.S.By comparing the statistics of players who have left Cuba and come to the US -- such as YunieskyBetancourt, Kendry Morales and Alexei Ramirez -- in terms of what theyve done there and theirsubsequent accomplishments in the majors, we can get a good idea of the level of play in Cuba. Thechanges in their statistics suggest that the Cuban level of play is similar to the Low-A leagues here in theU.S., something like the South Atlantic or Midwest Leagues.Allowing for that level of play, over four years at the major league level in the United States, Chapmanwould project out with a 10-23 won-loss record, tossing 303 strikeouts in 294.2 innings of work and anERA around 6.66.
Chapmans work wouldnt be considered nearly as impressive in the U.S. Yes, hes a hard thrower, but one with little idea where the ball is going. He doesnt give up a lot of hits … but when he does? He gets crushed. We have 30 years of minor league translations available for comparison, and I went looking for other 21-year-old pitchers with similar stat lines. These are his closest dozen comparisons, statistically:1. Adam Bostick, 2004 Greensboro: He was switched to relief this year, and is currently at Triple-A with the Mets.2. Ted Langdon, 1984 Cedar Rapids: He topped out at Double-A.3. Joe Young, 1996 Hagerstown: He topped out at Double-A.4. Brian Fuentes, 1997 Wisconsin: He switched to relief. You should know him today; hes closing for the Angels.5. Kevin Franchi, 1986 Macon: He topped out in Class A ball.6. Andy Sisco, 2004 Daytona: A Rule 5 pick in 2004, he pitched a few years in the majors in relief before getting hurt.7. Mike Gonzalez, 1999 Lynchburg: Hes a successful major league reliever.8. Oliver Perez, 2003 San Diego: Chapmans only top comp in the majors at 21 from among his top 30 comparables, and the only one who remained a starting pitcher.9. Ken Dayley, 1980 Savannah: He had an 11-year major league career, 90 percent of it spent pitching in relief.10. Jose DeJesus, 1986 Fort Myers: He spent two decent years as a starter with the Phillies before injuries hit.11. Scott Linebrink, 1998 Shreveport: Another pitcher with a successful major league career after switching to relief.12. Carlos Hernandez, 2001 Round Rock: Another career derailed by injuries, but hes still pitching in the Rays system. Of his 12 best comps, only Oliver Perez has produced a reasonably successful career as a starting pitcher. Four have had solid careers as relievers, three were derailed by injuries after reaching the majors and four never made it that far (although Bostick is still trying and has a shot). So where does that leave us? With a drool-worthy fastball sure to excite some enthusiastic bidding, but a performance record thats short of the sort of excellence that might help us propel Chapman to the same level as this winters top free-agent pitchers, whether were talking about John Lackey, the more fragile Erik Bedard and Rich Harden, or veteran hurlers such as Jason Marquis and Jarrod Washburn. Because of the promise of that fastball, however, dont be surprised if the bidding tops that four-year, $10 million deal that put fellow defector Dayan Viciedo with the White Sox last winter, because if theres one thing that holds true, its that Cubans are like catnip for big league GMs. Clay Davenport is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Pasted from <http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?id=4395918>
Chapman working out somewhere in Spain.Wednesday, August 12, 2009Updated: August 17, 2:16 PM ETAnswering questions about Aroldis ChapmanVery soon, Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman will establish residency outside of the United States, whichwill then expedite the process for his application to Major League Baseball for free agency. If youhavent read about him yet, check out my recent feature from ESPN The Magazine. After interviewingAroldis in Barcelona, Spain almost two weeks ago, it seemed logical to me that he would be establishingresidency in Spain. But on Wednesday, Chapmans agent Edwin Mejia suggested that Chapman may beestablishing residency outside of Spain, though he would not specify where.This adds even more intrigue to the next chapter of the Chapman saga. And it raises even morequestions about his future:Which country could he be headed to? Holland, the country where Chapman defected, may prove to bethe easiest place, legally, for him to establish residency. But there is also a possibility that Mejia is beingcoy, and Chapman will stay in Barcelona.How long until he pitches in the U.S.? Though Chapman trains five days a week, four hours a day (aregimen that includes on-the-field training, conditioning and weight training), it likely will be almost ayear from the time he last pitched in Cuba to the time when he throws his first pitch in a professionalgame in the United States.Will he have to make a stop in the minors? Though he was 11-4 in Cuba after the World Baseball Classic,some teams still believe he needs to catch up developmentally before he can pitch in the majors. Mejiaclarified that while Chapman wont throw in a showcase workout, he is open to throwing for individualteams.Is he headed for new representation? Already Mejia and his agency, Athletes Premier International,have come under attack from all corners of the agent market. Most recently, an article in the paperNuevo Heraldo out of Miami, suggested that Mejia is unfit to represent Chapman.
Contemplating his next step.Chapman, despite the articles suggestion that hes essentially being held hostage, appears to be happyliving his life in Barcelona surrounded by one of his best friends from childhood. The article also impliesthat Mejia will be unable to negotiate a deal for Chapman because he is not certified by the MajorLeague Baseball Players Association. But that is untrue. Elizabeth Kidder, spokesperson for the MLBPA,confirmed to me on July 23 that Mejia was certified.Regardless, Mejia should expect these types of attacks until Chapman either signs with a team or picks anew agent. Agents are awaiting a misstep from Mejia and API, which despite having a small academy inthe Dominican and representing a couple of minor leaguers, is considered a newcomer. Some agentshave already made overtures to Chapman in Spain.Weve examined Chapmans fascinating past not only in the ESPN The Magazine story, but also in atelevision feature on Outside the Lines and this story on espn.com. There is no doubt that Chapmansfuture will be just as fascinating.Pasted from <http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4393910&type=blogEntry>Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman defects By Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports Jul 2, 1:58 pm EDTThe agent for several Cuban major leaguers said he could have defector Aroldis Chapman signed, inshape and ready for next spring training, but has not yet heard from Chapman, who he understood wason his way to Miami on Thursday after leaving the Cuban national team at a tournament in theNetherlands.More From Tim Brown Manny makes it all about Manny Feb 23, 2010
Lincecum is no speed Freak Feb 22, 2010Jaime Torres, who has represented Jose Contreras(notes), Yunieski Betancourt, Alexei Ramirez(notes)and Dayan Viciedo(notes), among others, said he’d confirmed with the Cuban delegation that Chapmanhad defected. Chapman, who is left-handed and throws 100 mph, is one of the world’s top pitchingprospects. He is 21.If he wants to avoid the draft and become a free agent, Chapman must first establish legal residency in acountry outside of the U.S. or Cuba. The Dominican Republic has been a popular choice. Torres said hehoped to speak to Chapman before he chooses a representative.“With the proper work and dedication and coaching he could make a team out of spring training, ormaybe late in winter ball,” Torres said. “He could easily be a No. 2 in a rotation right now.“The last pitcher I could compare him to is Contreras. He’s proven himself at a high level.”The baseball world was abuzz with the news of Chapman, who pitched in the World Baseball Classic.Many scouts observed during the second round of that tournament that the three best pitchingprospects – San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg, Japan’s Yu Darvish and Chapman – were within a fewmiles of each other.A Yankees source said the club would be very interested in signing Chapman. Of course, said one generalmanager with a laugh, “I’m sure all 30 teams will be interested to some degree.”Pasted from <http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AnmeofRBNzxQJuMw8pNlVgo8R9MF?slug=ti-chapmandefects070209&prov=yhoo&type=lgns&print=1>Top Ten: Baseball’s Future Stars
GREGORY BULL / ASSOCIATED PRESSAroldis Chapman pitches for Cuba against Australia in a World Baseball Classic game in March.Hard-throwing lefty from Cuba has drawn a lot ofinterestBy Larry StoneTimes baseball reporterEnvision a 21-year-old pitcher â€” left-handed, no less â€” that has lit up radar guns to the tune of 102mph, drawing raves from scouts as the southpaw Stephen Strasburg.Now consider that this pitcher is not just a myth, but a living, breathing entity, who can be found thesedays in, of all places, Madrid.And just one other thing: Hes a free agent, poised to sign in the upcoming weeks with a major-leagueteam.Perhaps even the Mariners.Meet Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban who defected in July during the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam,The Netherlands, was driven to Barcelona, eventually established residency in Andorra â€” a smallcountry (population, 84,000) located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France â€”and, on Sept. 25, was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball."Whoever signs him will be getting a true gem," said Edwin Mejia of Athletes Premier International, theWhite Plains, N.Y., agency that is representing Chapman. "A unique talent like this comes across every40 or 50 years."
Mejia, a graduate of Boston University Law School, is a fledgling agent, but Scott Boras couldnt havesaid it any better.Sure enough, a bidding war is expected to ensue over Chapmans rights that hasnt been seen involving aCuban defector since Jose Contreras signed a four-year, $32 million deal in 2003 with the Yankees. Thatoutcome so infuriated Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, also hot after Contreras, that hereportedly broke a chair in his hotel.While the usual big-market teams are expected to be heavily involved â€” the Dodgers, Angels and Metsalong with the Yankees and Red Sox â€” the word in scouting circles is that the Mariners are also aserious player. They are said to have scouted Chapman extensively for the past several years as hisreputation in international circles grew.Chapman crossed paths with Ichiro in the World Baseball Classic (where he had a 5.68 earned-runaverage in 6-1/3 innings while pitching for Cuba, giving up three runs in just 2-1/3 innings against Japan)and is said to be aware of the presence of Felix Hernandez anchoring the Mariners rotation.In fact, one person close to the situation confirmed that the Mariners are one of the few teams thatactually saw Chapman throw in Barcelona when he was working out at the old Olympics baseball facility,before moving his base of operations to Madrid.Mejia, in a phone interview Friday, declined to discuss which teams have made contact.But he did confirm that Chapman has cleared all the necessary logistical and governmental hurdles, "andteams are free to sign him tomorrow if they agree to the proper terms. At this point, were being verypatient."On the other hand, with the major-league free agents â€” including an impact pitcher like John Lackeyâ€” hitting the open market after the World Series, it makes sense to strike soon with Chapman whilethey have a captive audience.Its possible that Chapmans people could stage a showcase for teams to scout and meet the pitcher â€”or they could skip that process entirely and cut a deal.Mejia would only say, "Were going to have a nice surprise for everyone soon."Meanwhile, Chapman himself is throwing bullpen sessions, working out and running in Madrid, and hasput on 15 pounds since his defection, Mejia said. He had been listed at 6 feet 3, 185 pounds.Scouts are unanimous that Chapman has a magnificent arm and an overpowering fastball with thepotential to be a No. 1 starter, but there is some concern over his secondary pitches. He throws a slider,split-fingered fastball, changeup and curveball."I love Chapman, but as a prospect and not as a major-league ready pitcher," said agent Joe Kehoskie,who has extensive experience with Cuban baseball players.As a lefty who throws in the 100 mph range, Chapman might have more upside than any other pitcheron the planet, but hes still very raw. Aside from a high strikeout rate, Chapman never dominated theCuban National Series, and some of his key metrics have been trending in the wrong direction.For example, his ERA in the Cuban National Series rose from 2.77 to 3.89 to 4.03 over the last threeseasons. Chapman never was named to the Cuban all-star game in his four seasons, and his 2009 WBCappearance was his only top-level international event.There is also concern, one baseball executive said, over his tendency to sometimes lose his composureon the mound. At the WBC, Chapman was clearly distressed by a strike zone that was smaller than inCuba, and when removed against Japan, didnt look at his manager as he ran off the mound."When youre asked to lay out big-time money, you want to know the total package," said the executive."You want to know if he can control his emotions."Other scouts, however, say they like Chapmans competitiveness and fire and point out that he is just 21and was under extreme pressure in Cuba."A lot of pitchers â€” great pitchers â€” have shown emotion on the mound," Mejia said. "I dont thinkits a big concern. There have been more incidents of him keeping his composure than not keeping it."
Few believe that Chapman â€” who left behind a girlfriend and recently born baby in Cuba, as well as hisparents and two sisters â€” is ready to start his career in the major leagues. But one scout said, "Hesextremely close to the big-league level."Since defecting, Chapman has done a handful of interviews in Spanish, one with USA Today and anextensive one with ESPN."I want to be the best pitcher in the world," he told ESPNs Jorge Arangure in August. "Im not yet. Butwith work I can be."Pasted from <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2010035468&zsection_id=2002119751&slug=stone11&date=20091010>Posted: Monday September 21, 2009 7:28AM; Updated: Monday September 21, 2009 11:13AMCoveted Cuban defector Chapman establishesresidency in AndorraStory HighlightsChapman cleared the first and most difficult of the three major hurdlesThis may make him available for free agency before the playoffs beginChapmans expected to command more than the $32M Jose ContrerasreceivedBy Melissa Segura, SI.comNEW YORK -- The streets of Andorra, the tiny European nation nestled between the French-Spanishborder, are a shoppers dream. The duty-fee nation is home to retailers offering the finest fragrances,the most precious of gems, and now, one of the most coveted of pitching arms. Aroldis Chapman, theCuban left-hander equipped with a 102 mph fastball, established residency last week in Andorra, SI.comhas learned.Chapmans Andorran residency clears the first and most difficult of the three major hurdles to becominga major league free agent. Because Chapman had his passport -- an almost unheard of occurrence for aCuban defector -- establishing residency took a fraction of the time needed for most defectors and maymake him available for free agency before the playoffs begin, his agents say.Edwin Leonel Mejia of Athletes Premier International, Chapmans agent, says his clients Andorranpapers "creates a new channel for players to establish residency." Cuban defectors have historicallychosen Latin American nations like the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, or Guatemala for establishingresidency. By becoming a citizen of a country besides the United States, Cuban players circumvent theU.S. embargo with Cuba and slip through a major league loophole which allows players from the third-party countries to enter the lucrative free-agent market rather than be subjected to the draft, whereslotting systems help to control prices.
Mejia calls Chapmans European residency "the most important baseball event" in the continentshistory. Major League Baseball began an aggressive campaign to expand its reach in Europe. The AtlantaBraves, for example, opened an academy this spring in the Canary Islands.Chapmans career record is 24-21 and he twice led the Serie Nacional, Cubas professional league, instrikeouts. Despite the mediocre record, the money Chapman will command is expected to exceed the$32 million signing bonus the New York Yankees paid Cuban right-hander Jose Contreras, who was 31when he joined the Yankees in 2002. Andorras lack of income tax means Chapman will save money inhis new homeland, Mejia says.Industry sources expect big-market behemoths like the Red Sox and Yankees to open their wallets forChapman, while one scouting director tells SI.com that Chapman projects as a middle reliever ratherthan a high-dollar starter. But Chapman will be in what some baseball insiders describe as a shallowfree-agent pitching pool, thereby driving up his price.The 6-foot-4, 185-pound pitcher walked away from his hotel in Rotterdam, Holland on July 1, when theCuban national team was preparing to play in an international tournament. While most Cubans dontdefect until they are past their prime, Chapman, at age 21, is a rarity in that he has time to go along withhis talent. Chapman has petitioned Major League Baseball to be declared a free agent.Lastly, the pitcher will have to go through a process known as unblocking, where the U.S. TreasuryDepartments Office of Foreign Assets Control must ensure that the pitchers employment doesntviolate the United States embargo with Cuba. Andorra, then, will have one more luxury item to call itsown.Pasted from<http://si.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Cuban+defector+Aroldis+Chapman+establishes+residency+in+Andorra+-+SI.com+-+MLB&expire=&urlID=411032585&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsportsillustrated.cnn.com%2F2009%2Fbaseball%2Fmore%2F09%2F18%2Fchapman.andorra%2F&partnerID=2356>Cuban defector generating interest with pitching heatBy Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAYOn Monday, the same day Aroldis Chapmans representatives announced the Cuban defector hadestablished legal residency in Andorra, Henry Rodriguez and his 100 mph fastball made a forgettablemajor league debut with the Oakland As.The next day, San Francisco Giants rookie Waldis Joaquin reached triple digits with his fastball as wellbut failed to retire any of the four batters he faced.Chapmans heater, which was clocked at 100 mph during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March,became a coveted asset the moment he defected July 1 during a tournament in Rotterdam,Netherlands.Once hes granted free agency by Major League Baseball, which might happen by late October, the 21-year-old left-hander figures to be the subject of a bidding war that could top the $32 million the NewYork Yankees paid in 2003 for fellow Cuban Jose Contreras.Whether that proves to be a wise investment wont be known for some time, and its already the subjectof much debate, despite the 100 mph fastball.
Even though Chapman, 6-2 and 185 pounds, went only 24-21 in four years in Cubas Serie Nacional, hisERA climbing from a low of 2.77 during the 2006-07 season to 4.03 last season, and he posted a 5.68ERA in 6⅓ innings at the WBC, his potential as a dominant starter has created a stir among baseballpeople."His best number right now is the one thats on that little radar gun," said Eddie Bane, the Los AngelesAngels director of scouting. "Theres more to pitching than that, but you dont see many guys with thatnumber, so you pay attention.""I went for it"Escaping the Castro regime turned out to be simple and nerve-wracking at the same time.Chapman, who had tried and failed to flee Cuba by boat in March 2008, had made arrangements with acontact from Cuba to pick him up by car at the team hotel in Rotterdam on the afternoon of his arrival.To Chapmans happy surprise, Cuban officials neglected to confiscate the players passports, their usualpolicy after passing through customs, so he had a document proving his identity and age. That wouldeventually expedite his getting new residency.No one impeded Chapmans escape this time. All he had to do was walk into the waiting car. Still, thethought of turning his back on his teammates and family — his parents, two sisters, girlfriend and babydaughter remain in Cuba — gave him pause."I was very nervous when I saw the guy in the hotel, and he told me this was the moment," Chapmansaid in a telephone interview in Spanish. "I didnt know what to do, but I had decided to take that stepand I went for it."Along with a friend from Cuba who now plays college baseball in the USA — Chapman declined to namehim — and Edwin Leonel Mejia, who is now his agent, Chapman drove to Barcelona and began trainingin July at the baseball facilities used for the 1992 Olympics.About six weeks ago he moved two hours north to Andorra, a country of 84,000 lodged in the Pyreneesbetween Spain and France. The European location has mostly kept the news media and potentialpoachers at bay, but Mejia says Chapman will consider traveling to the USA to showcase himself once hegains free agency.Mejia wont get into specifics about which teams might bid for Chapman or how much it might take tosign him, saying only, "My sense and common sense dictates that there will be many teams interested inhis services."Cultural changesIn addition to his vaunted fastball, Chapman throws a slider, splitter, curve and changeup. Theoverpowering repertoire allowed him to strike out 379 in 341⅔ innings in his Cuban league career, buthe walked 210 and had a 3.72 overall ERA.In his WBC start against Japan, Chapman was visibly upset over a strike zone he regarded as smaller thanin Cuba."He has a great arm, but he has only one pitch, is not very coachable and would not have made thecurrent national team," said author and journalist Peter Bjarkman, who has written extensively aboutCuban baseball and travels to the island frequently.Besides polishing his skills, Chapman will have to adjust to the American culture. He has taken steps inthat direction with a fondness for iPhones and the music of rapper 50 Cent. In addition, he has begun aRosetta Stone English language program.Chapman believes none of the challenges he encounters will compare with the difficulty of walking awayfrom his previous life."Its easier to face a hitter, no matter how good he is, than to deal with the situation I dealt with a fewmonths ago," Chapman said.
"So I wouldnt be scared to face any hitters. Its not like theyre going to bite me. All they can do is get ahit off me."It was a stressful time when I left the team and my family behind, when I had to worry that Cubansecurity may come after me. But all thats in the past."Pasted from<http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Cuban+defector+generating+interest+with+pitching+heat+-+USATODAY.com&expire=&urlID=411331857&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fsports%2Fbaseball%2F2009-09-24-cuban-defector-pitching_N.htm&partnerID=1662>Red Sox impressed by GreinkeBoston skipper, hitters tip their caps to Royals aceSeptember 23, 2009, 12:40 AMBy: Amy NelsonKANSAS CITY -- Zack Greinke stood against the wall in the postgame press room at Kauffman Stadium,looking down at his shoes while his manager praised him. It may not have been comfortable for Greinke,but his manager pressed on, making the case for his star pitcher."I have a very difficult time thinking theres anybody in the major leagues ... as good a pitcher as ZackGreinke is in the year 2009," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Charlie RiedelZack Greinke held the Red Sox to just twho hits over six innings, and has surendered just one earned runover his last five starts.Greinke changed speeds, darted in and out of the strike zone, and threw almost everything he had atthe Red Sox on Tuesday night, beating them 5-1 and improving to 15-8 this season. His ERA is now 2.08,he has allowed just one earned run over his last five starts, and he is the front-runner for the Cy Youngaward.His night was made easier when Paul Byrd allowed five runs in the first inning. Byrd, who in 2002 wasthe last Royal to win 15 games in a season, pitched efficiently after the first inning."The first inning wasnt very pretty," manager Terry Francona said. "But after that he pitched great. Hekept our bullpen intact."While Byrds 6 2/3 innings was a help to Bostons bullpen, he was certainly no Greinke."He had everything," Francona said of the Royals ace. "Thats impressive. Velocity, maybe the bestslider in the game ... seeing it firsthand, that was impressive stuff."In this decade, Pedro Martinez has been the only AL pitcher who has had an ERA below 2.50 at the endof the season, doing it three times but winning the Cy Young only once. Greinke will not make it to 20
wins, but it will seem difficult to deny him the award with the numbers hes posted. Against the Red Soxon Tuesday, he needed only six innings and 91 pitches, leaving the game, he said, because he was tiring.The Red Sox batters didnt seem to think so."The radar gun and everything looked the same," Jason Bay said. "If he was a little tired, he didnt showit to us."Greinke, who was hit by a line drive in the elbow during his last start, had a modest take on his night."I didnt feel as crisp," he said. "I didnt really use the curveball a lot. ... It wasnt amazing, but it was agood outing."That was all he needed against Boston.Martinez makes Sox historyThe only two players who got hits off Greinke were Dustin Pedroia, who doubled in the first inning, andVictor Martinez, who singled in the sixth. For Pedroia it extended his hitting streak to 14 games.For Martinez, it was yet another achievement since coming to this team. He now has a 21-game hittingstreak, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, thats the longest such streak for a switch-hitter in Red Soxhistory. The last Boston switch-hitter to have such a streak was Reggie Smith in 1969, who hit in 19straight games. Overall, the longest hitting streak in team history was Dom DiMaggios 34-gamer in1949.Bays homer streak endsLeft fielder Jason Bay went homer-less for the first time in five games, and he didnt drive in a run onTuesday, snapping a seven-game RBI streak. If he had homered or recorded an RBI, he would have beenin special company.Heres what the Stats & Information department at ESPN passed along:Most Consecutive Games With a HR Red Sox LF, Since 1954 Yr. - Player Games 58 Ted Williams 5 09 Jason Bay 4 78 Jim Rice 4 69 Carl Yastrzemski 4 67 Carl Yastrzemski 4 57 Ted Williams 4It was the second seven-game streak this season in which Bay has driven in at least one run. Accordingto Elias, Bay is the first Red Sox player to have two seven-game RBI streaks in one season since TedWilliams in 1950.Expect the Red Sox to be interested in ChapmanWith the news this week that Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman has established residency in the smallEuropean country of Andorra, the natural assumption was that many teams would wade into thebidding once the 21-year-old becomes a free agent. While clubs await official word from Major LeagueBaseball about Chapmans free-agent status, expect the Red Sox to have serious interest.Boston almost certainly will want to see Chapman throw in person. His agent, Edwin Leonel Mejia, toldESPN The Magazine that he will likely have private workouts for teams, not a showcase. But untilChapman is officially declared a free agent, the teams, including the Red Sox, wont know exactly whatthe rules of engagement will be until Chapmans agent sets them.
If and when teams are officially allowed to see Chapman in person, they will have to travel to Europe;the Red Sox would likely send at least international scouting director Craig Shipley and people within hisdepartment, and possibly other members of the front office at some point. Back in 2002, generalmanager Theo Epstein flew to Nicaragua to try to woo Jose Contreras, whom the Yankees signed to afour-year, $32 million deal. That later prompted team president Larry Lucchinos famous "evil empire"quote.For now, teams will gather as much information they can and will look for any possible advantage onceit comes time to negotiate. While Chapmans favorite player is Contreras -- who is now with the Rockies-- the Red Sox have Cuban-born Luis Tiant, the former star pitcher who could be called upon to make aphone call or perhaps even visit.Quick hitsKansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli stopped by Bostons clubhouse before Tuesday nightsgame. The relationship between Pioli and Francona dates back to Franconas first year in Boston, whenboth men were honored at an award banquet. Pioli, then with the New England Patriots, has kept intouch with Francona over the years. On Wednesday morning, Francona and perhaps some of the stafflikely will check out a Chiefs practice at Arrowhead Stadium, right next to Kauffman Stadium. ... Thelikely rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium will be Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Byrd. For theYankees, it will be Joba Chamberlain, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. ... Before the game, Red Soxreliever Billy Wagner was sitting in the dugout when he spotted Royals catcher Miguel Olivo comingtoward him with a sheepish smile. Wagner gave Olivo a hard time about his success against him; Olivo is8-for-12 (.667) vs. Wagner lifetime with two homers and a 1.833 OPS. "I look up [at the scoreboard],youre a .240 hitter and I cant ever get you out," Wagner told Olivo as he approached.Pasted from <http://espn.go.com/boston/columns/blog?post=4496263&name=nelson>Cuban client Aroldis Chapman a big deal to agentBy Michael Silverman / Red Sox NotebookWednesday, September 23, 2009 - Added 154d 15h agoKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Aroldis Chapman, the newest resident of Andorra, is on course to be the hottestpitching commodity available in the offseason.Expect the Red Sox [team stats] to be among the many teams who will explore signing the 21-year-oldleft-hander, whose features include a 100-plus mph fastball, a 6-foot-4 frame and four years ofprofessional experience pitching in Cuba.Pasted from <http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/baseball/red_sox/view.bg?articleid=1199366>Buzz: Mets have not yet talked to Aroldis ChapmanOctober 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm · 24 commentsby Matthew CerroneUpdate, 5:40 pm:
The Mets now expect to meet with Aroldis Chapman later this week, according to David Lennon of Newsday.Original Post:According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, the Cubs and White Sox have expressed interest in free-agent LHP Aroldis Chapman.In a post to Twitter, Dierke said, “The Mets have not yet met with Chapman, in case you werewondering.”…thanks, tim… in fact, i was wondering…Yesterday, Jorge Arangure of ESPN.com said Chapman had arrive in New York to begin a series ofmeetings with MLB teams.In July, in a report for ESPN The Magazine, Arangure said many scouts believe Chapman is the best left-handed pitching prospect in the world.Pasted from <http://www.metsblog.com/2009/10/22/buzz-mets-have-not-yet-talked-to-aroldis-chapman/> ]Tuesday, February 23, 2010Aroldis Chapman comes of age the hard wayVery soon, when Aroldis Chapman takes the mound for his first outing of the spring, an air of mysterywill be removed that has trailed him since the moment he defected from the Cuban national teamduring a tournament in the Netherlands last July. Finally, Chapman will cease being "Chapman theprodigy" and he will simply become "Chapman the pitcher."At first, Chapman was labeled by his original agents, Athletes Premier International, as a transcendentplayer, the biggest prospect to ever come out of Cuba, one who would change the way Cubans aremarketed in America. Chapmans next agents, Hendricks Sports Management, simply dropped thehyperbole and marketed Chapman as a standout pitcher on the free agent market.Ultimately, Chapmans heralded free agency ended up being mostly a dud. Chapman did not sign with alarge market team, did not break the record for the biggest deal given to a Cuban defector and he hasyet to sign any large endorsement deals.Though at first glance, Chapmans six-year, $30.25 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds appears stout,the reality is that the contract is heavily team-friendly."Smoke and mirrors by Hendricks," said one high-ranking team executive. "They have phonied up adeal."Chapman received a $16.25 million signing bonus, but that money wasnt paid immediately to him.Instead, Chapman received only $1.5 million of that bonus upfront, with the rest being paid to him ininstallments over the next several years. By comparison, Jose Iglesias, the Cuban shortstop who signed
with the Boston Red Sox this offseason, received a $6 million upfront signing bonus. It will takeChapman two years to match what Iglesias received at the moment he signed.Even though the contract is technically structured for six years, Chapman will receive almost a third ofthe contracts total money -- and half of his total bonus -- in deferred payments from 2014-2020. As anyfinancial expert can tell you, the buying power of an amount of money in 2010 will be drasticallydifferent than it will be in 2020.In the best-case scenario, Chapman will make the major league team out of spring training this year andwill pitch well enough so that he remains on the major league roster for the next three seasons. If thatsthe case, then Chapmans contract years in 2013-14 become a bonus and he will head into arbitration.But even in that situation, Chapman will only have received $15 million through the first three years ofthe contract. And an important distinction needs to be made: Chapmans official annual salary in 2012will be two million -- remember that the other payments owed to him that year will be bonuses. That $2million would be the number used to determine Chapmans 2013 salary in arbitration.Lets not forget also, that its the Reds who in essence control when Chapman makes his major leaguedebut, and ultimately, how quickly he gets to arbitration.So in the end, Chapmans contract did not match the hype.Realistically, its difficult to blame the Hendricks or API for Chapmans market. Ultimately teams weregoing to bid what they wanted regardless of who represented Chapman.Some clubs doubted Chapman was mature enough to handle the responsibilities of being a multi-million-dollar major leaguer. Chapmans abrupt decision to drop his original agent also raised questions.Though several people close to him say Chapman is not a bad guy, the mere perception of bad makeupaffected his market.Its telling that the two teams who scouted him the most, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox,did not become a finalist to sign him. Perhaps they knew things that other teams didnt.Regardless, one can assume that any 21-year-old will grow out of immaturity. Most concerning for somewas Chapmans unfamiliarity with major league baseball and the seeming lack of pitching acumen thatwas a result. Simply put, Chapman does not appear to be a baseball fan. Chapman has admitted he didnot know anything about the Cuban-born Tony Perez, the former Reds Hall of Fame first baseman, whois well known and well regarded in his home country. Its understandable that Chapman may not befamiliar with current stars such as Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter (as he admitted to ESPN The Magazinelast summer), but you would think a Cuban baseball star should be familiar with Perez.His lack of baseball knowledge was a sign to some that Chapman would have a difficult time masteringthe art of pitching, which ultimately will determine his success in the majors, regardless of howphysically gifted he might be. Nobody around Chapman would say that he does not train hard enough.But many question whether he actually loves baseball and cares enough to be a student of the game.Can Chapman be a defining figure for a franchise looking to return to prominence? That mystery willremain for some time. As one Cuban baseball authority is quick to point out, though, Chapmans team inthe Cuban National Series, the Sabuesos de Holguin, have actually performed better this season withoutChapman than they did in the three previous years with him.Pasted from <http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4938883&type=blogEntry>Chapman pays a visit to the U.S.Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Print EntryPosted by Jorge Arangure Jr.On Wednesday, prized Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman will arrive in New York to begin aseries of meetings with several general managers, Chapmans agent, Edwin Mejia, confirmed to LaEsquina.