February 20, 2013
Five to Watch
Impact Arms With Unclear Roles
One of new segments coming to you from the BP fantasy team is the Five to Watch in Spring Training series, with Bret Sayre handling the hitters (as he did in the debut post last week) and yours truly covering the pitchers. The noteworthy players will be generally be guys on their way back from an injury, those fighting for playing time, and prospects looking to make an impression. Today’s group features an intriguing set of arms who could be high-impact assets if all goes as planned.
Somebody said, “Your rotation was good last year, but you’re still making the move with Chapman…” At that point, Baker interrupted and said, “Maybe. That’s a maybe. It’s the same situation as last year. We started with Chapman as a starter. Then Ryan Madson (closer) went down. We had no clue Chapman would be as good as he is as a closer. I don’t think anybody did. We didn’t know if he was going to throw enough strikes,”
I am always in favor of a team utilizing a special pitcher in the rotation if possible. I championed Texas trying Neftali Feliz as a starter and desperately wanted the Rangers to put Alexi Ogando back in the rotation last year. I would advocate this move with Chapman, too, if I thought it had a reasonable chance of succeeding, but I’m skeptical, because we have seen nothing in the form of a third pitch from the flamethrowing lefty. He hasn’t needed it as a major-league reliever, but it’s not like he was overwhelmingly successful as a minor league starter, either.
Chapman is currently being drafted in the early 80s, according to NFBC mock draft data, which means that he needs to either be Chris Sale 2.0 or go back into the bullpen and be an ace closer again to fulfill that cost. Chapman’s transition will be one of the biggest stories of spring training, and his draft position will likely vacillate with the reports from Arizona. I cannot envision a scenario in which I would recommend drafting Chapman in the top 100, unless he is assured of a return to the closer role.