23 December 2009

What is Aroldis Chapman Worth?

A week ago Roch Kobatko wrote up his interview with John Stockstill, the Orioles' director of international scouting. He had been present at Aroldis Chapman's workout and communicated that representatives from over 20 teams were present for the workout. It appeared the workout was a sort of resetting the clock with his new agents. The goal being that they wanted to show that Chapman was healthy, in shape, and ready to take his professional career very seriously. At the moment, we are aware that the Red Sox offered 15.5MM several weeks ago and that the Marlins are currently sitting on a 12-13MM bonus offer. Conventional wisdom is that either the Yankees or BoSox will wind up winning his services.

An evaluation of his worth as a prospect and a collection of scouting reports after the jump.

Chapman has played the last four years in Cuba top league. This is a league that has 16 teams while Cuba has a population of roughly 12MM. The competition just is not that strong. I have included in with the stat line an expected MLE that is based on a composite of A ball translations to the pro game. Admittedly, this is a large assumption, but I think it gives a ball park idea about his performance and what level of competition he has faced.

2006 15 15 54.0 48 33 26 5 54 56 4.52 5.33 9.22
2007 23 12 81.1 59 26 25 4 50 100 2.90 3.22 5.57
2008 16 16 74.0 55 36 32 3 37 79 3.49 3.09 5.35
2009 22 20 118.1 109 56 53 7 62 130 3.19 3.34 5.78

We have Pitch f/x data from his WBC game last spring. It is only one outing, but it does present a decent idea as to where his fastball velocity works. He was able to must pitches at 100 and 102 mph, but his working velocity was 93.5mph. Velocity does not exactly match up with performance, but there does seem to be an indication that increased velocity makes a fastball better (of course). The following charts compares average fastball velocity of the top 33 fastballs in the game from starting pitchers, starting with Ubaldo Jimenez and ending with Luke Hochevar. No attempt was made to look at movement or location, just velocity.

Using the equation presented in the chart from MLB quality pitchers. Chapman's fastball velocity was 93.5mph and his projected runs value would be 0.12 runs saved per 100 fastballs. That means it is an above average pitch is about 10.8% above average for this population of starters. If you prefer BtBS's estimate of 94.6mph after weeding out incorrectly defined pitches, then you are looking at 0.52 runs saved per 100 fastballs or 38% better than the average fastball. A major assumption here (on top of all of the other assumptions) is that pitchers will more of a track record are having their pitches properly identified. Regardless, Chapman throws hard. Throwing hard is good. It remains to be seen if he has or will have Major league quality control. I assume many hard throwers are weeded out.

Here are excerpt from a solid scouting report at Baseball Intellect:

Fastball – Chapman’s fastball is typically clocked in the 93 – 96 range and will occasionally touch 97 – 99. The pitch has tremendous life and carry through the zone with some natural tail. Chapman’s control will vary from start-to-start. On average, his control of the pitch is decent and will often be at least around the strike zone. But commanding the pitch is a different story. Pitching to a right handed hitter, the catcher’s mitt might be positioned on the inside corner and Chapman’s ball will often end up right down the middle.

Curveball – A good change of pace offering with a solid two-plane brake. However, Chapman will sometimes slow his arm down when throwing the pitch. It’s clocked as low as 69 mph, getting as high as 75.

Slider – Chapman’s most effective off-speed offering…I’ve heard the pitch can hit 90, but I’ve only seen it come close to that mark once and I’m still not sure the pitch was a slider. I’ve typically seen his slider in the 79 – 83 range. The pitch has major consistency issues and can rate anywhere from below average to plus.

Change-Up and Cutter – Chapman possesses both a cutter and change-up, neither of which he uses often.

Chapman’s release point is inconsistent and it will vary with each pitch type . . . Chapman has to coordinate a lot of moving parts however, and that will naturally lead to an inability to consistently repeat his mechanics though he has the athleticism to do so.

I think it is a fair assessment that Aroldis Chapman would immediately be a top 50 prospect with his big arm, promising secondary pitches, and for being a southpaw. Using Victor Wang's probability model for assessing prospect worth, he will generate roughly 15-16MM in terms of production. I would argue that having his type of fastball puts him in a higher class and his value should be more around 18-20MM. Velocity transfers better to higher competition than pitchability.

If the Orioles signed Chapman, he would immediately become their second or third best prospect behind Matusz and potentially Arrieta/Britton/Bell depending on your perspective. He would probably start in HiA Frederick though a few games at Delmarva is not entirely out of the question. He will probably be in the majors within 3 years. His upside as a top end starter and low end projection as a middle reliever makes the investment of around 20MM quite fitting.


Sean said...

Wow, this answers most of my questions about Chapman. Thanks!

Things I'm still wondering:
1)In your opinion, if the O's decide not to spend money on a first baseman this offseason, will they make a real attempt to sign Chapman?
2)It sounds like Chapman mostly needs to work on his mechanics and control. Do the O's have the right personnel in the minors to help him make the right changes? And, will his fastball still have such a high velocity by the time he hits the majors (i.e., by the time he gets his command issues worked out)?

Jon Shepherd said...

1: Will they make a real attempt? Eh, it does not seem so. I would encourage them to sign him. I think he is a good (but risky) talent. It would also be less of a throwing away of money in comparison to signings of guys like Garrett Atkins.

2: Do we have the right people in the minors? It seems that our minor league pitchers have been developing well lately, so, yes, I think we have those people in place.