ROUND 16: Scott Downs (RP, Blue Jays)
With the Toronto closer battle still in turmoil, I took a guess on who'd emerge victorious. Downs had the role part-time last year and wasn't bad. He also had the best spring stats of the three relievers in contention. Little did I know that spring-failure Kevin Gregg would eventually win out, selected two rounds later. Oh well. I'll probably drop him when I can jump the gun on the next closer-out-of-nowhere, assuming it doesn't happen at 3am on thefourteenthbaseballrelatedwebsitethatmikereadshourly.com.
ROUND 17: Aroldis Chapman (SP, Reds AAA-affiliate)
The $30 million dollar man is doing roughly what you would expect from an imported phenom arm in AAA: 0.60 ERA, with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings. He spends so much time nipping at corners with his fastball (still occasionally clocked at 100mph) and above-average slider that he ends up walking a ton of batters and running up his pitch count so high that he's almost always out of the game by the 5th inning. It's tough to guess how his game will translate to the majors. There have always been power arms who've succeeded on basically two pitches. Randy Johnson spent nineteen years hurling nothing but FB/SL combinations, until he tried working a splitter into his arsenal in 2007. Mariano Rivera was a 97% fastball pitcher until he discovered the cutter in 2004, and now he's a 95% cutter thrower. Josh Johnson, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Jonathan Sanchez (he will haunt me this entire season) etc. It can work. AJ Burnett is fastball/changeup and he hasn't exactly been a disaster.
Of course there are some failures. Johnny Cueto, cuban import, 90% FB/SL. Fausto Carmona. Scott Kazmir. Mark Redman and Brett Tomko and Vicente Padilla and Matt Clement and I'm not going to look these guys up but I'm guessing probably also Rick Ankiel and the older versions of Carlos Silva and John Rocker.
By all accounts, the changeup is Chapman's wild pitch. I have a personal theory that Chapman's location is off in AAA because he's working on that changeup and throwing it more than he would in the bigs, and that when called up his pitch splits will look like Josh Johnson's (in the 65/25/10 range) or at the very least comparable to other high-velocity arms (55/25/20) like Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge de la Rosa, and Clay Buchholz (and Sabathia and Liriano and the list goes on). This theory also helps me sleep at night when I should otherwise be terrified of owning both Brian Matusz and his wilder Cuban cousin.
I drafted Chapman here because the list of astounding and immediately fantasy-viable prospects this year was very short. It looked basically like this: Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, and Aroldis Chapman. These three had all the spring hype, were posting gaudy spring training stats, and each had a reasonable shot of actually starting the season in the majors. If he hadn't had a minor back spasm, Chapman probably would have been the Reds fifth starter, though I suppose looking back I should be thankful Chapman's had the opportunity to avoid the Reds' poor April. I will naturally regret watching Liriano (my first pick last year) go ahead of him and begin the season in Madden-style FU mode. But since everybody else seemed to be filling in their final lineup holes (Nolan Reimold? Corey Hart?!) I wanted to take my pull on the hype slot machine here instead of in Mat Latos land. I was still confidant that I'd land my shortstop.