Results tagged ‘ Bryan Price ’

Chapman pitches, hitters guess

Aroldis Chapman faced five hitters for about 10 minutes worth of pitching in his session of live batting practice on Wednesday. By my count, he threw 32 pitches to Chris Burke, Chris Valaika, Chris Heisey, Yonder Alonso and Corky Miller.

Only one hitter — Heisey — made solid contact and that was one time.

“I haven’t thrown to a hitter in about eight months. I felt really good,” Chapman said through interpreter Tony Fossas. “I threw the ball very efficiently. I thought I had control and command of my pitches.”

Batters were talking to each other trying to figure out what they were seeing. After seeing Chapman’s changeup on his third overall pitch to Burke, people around the cage were heard going ‘oooh.’

For all of the talk about Chapman’s 100 mph velocity after his signing, it was his slider and changeup that had people in the cage talking, and guessing.

“That’s a nice little repertoire. Somebody should sign this kid,” Burke said after leaving the cage.

“I never really had a slider or changeup,” Chapman said. “The changeup is the pitch that wasn’t efficient and didn’t throw much. Since I got here, I’ve been working really hard on it and those are pitches I will be able to use.”

The session reminded me of the first time Johnny Cueto pitched live BP at camp. He showed good stuff right away and was an unknown entity. By the time spring was over, Cueto was in the rotation and essentially skipped Triple-A. (He did have four starts at Louisville the previous year).

“Chapman was very good,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “With hitters in there, he was very comfortable and threw good pitches. He threw a lot of strikes. He threw a really good changeup. All in all, it was a good day.

“The slider was pretty nasty. Very nice. It will be fun to see how this progresses. There’s a lot of competition for that rotation.”

Wilkin Castillo, who speaks Spanish, was Chapman’s catcher this time. He called all of the pitches and wasn’t shaken off once.

“His slider was 85-88 mph and breaking a lot. It was pretty nice,” Castillo said. “His fastball? Oh my God, it was 98-99 mph and strikes, down and in.”

One other thing to keep in mind: Pitching coach Bryan Price had pitchers not use the “L” screen in front of the mound and not tell hitters what was coming. That’s not often the case in the first live BP. So hitters were really had a disadvantage on their second day of camp against all pitchers.

Chapman will pitch again on Saturday.

Here is what others had to say about Chapman –

Burke:

“Obviously, it’s dominating stuff. If he’s going to keep the ball down like that and get ahead in counts, what can you really do? As a hitter, you have to be ready to hit the fastball. It’s going to give him so much leeway with the slider and changeup.”

“If he can command the ball down in the zone like he did today, sky’s the limit for him potentially.”

“It’s a lot like Randy [Johnson] was. When Randy could really command his fastball, what could you really do? You just hoped you ran into one. His slider to me was comparable. It was sharp and came out of the same arm slot. If he can get it in like that, as a right-handed hitter, the best you can do is hope to hit a groundball hopefully through the left side.”

“First impressions were great. I was surprised with how well he seemed to be in command of his stuff.”

“I’ve been playing long enough to know a special guy. You don’t need a radar gun to see when the ball is getting there. The ball was getting there. He’s got a little herky-jerky to him, which is good from a pitching standpoint. It’s makes us even more uncomfortable.”

Alonso:

“I didn’t feel that bad just because I know him. He’s my boy. I told him this morning that ‘if by any chance I have to face you, just don’t hit me.’ Whoever doesn’t know him, God bless, because it’s rough.”

Pitching coach Bryan Price:

“It was terrific. He was in the zone with all three of his pitches. I thought he was sharper against hitters than he was in the bullpen.”

“These guys have seen guys that throw hard. It’s when you get a combination of a guy that’s a hard thrower that can command a finesse pitch like a changeup and has a power breaking ball. That puts you at a big disadvantage when he’s got three choices, even when he’s behind in the count. Today, he could have pitched with any of those pitches behind in the count.”

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Chapman throws in bullpen

Reds camp opened with the regular stuff on Thursday afternoon — pitchers and catchers ran. They stretched and played catch.

chapman2 021810.jpgSomething that was different was watching Aroldis Chapman be part of the first bullpen session. Estimated, he threw for about 10 minutes to catcher Ramon Hernandez. The ball seemed to snap in Hernandez’s glove as he shouted instructions and encouragement in Spanish.

Watching their $30 million investment pitch — GM Walt Jocketty, assistant GM Bob Miller, scout Jerry Walker, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price. Tony Fossas, the Class A Dayton pitching coach and Cuban native, translated coaching instructions from behind the mound.

Jocketty saw Chapman throw in the bullpen a couple of days ago, too.

“Very impressive,” Jocketty said. “I’d like to see him when a hitter gets in there. He showed good command. Everything was right around the strike zone. I watched him do his fielding drills over there and that was pretty good.”

The picture above is Chapman, taken by Reds assistant media relations director Larry Herms.

Here is how Chapman felt his first day went:

“I feel very comfortable,” he said with Fossas translating. “I had a really good day today, the first day out, with getting to know the guys. I feel this is a bunch of really good guys that have made me feel really at home.

“I am learning pretty fast, the system and the way it is here. I’m very comfortable with it.”

Price is in charge of Chapman’s throwing plan. That plan is to have the lefty throw in the ‘pen again on Saturday and once more on Monday. On Wednesday, he will face Reds hitters in live BP.

“The plan is we’re going to get him ready as we do, get him acclimated to the way we do things here, both from a throwing perspective and program and strength and conditioning, which we introduced back in January,” Price said. “We will continue to hone that and improve upon it.

“Then we’re going to let him get into ballgames and compete. I don’t think there’s any reason to say we have some sort of parameters on him. We’re going to let him go and compete. We’ve all seen the WBC games. We’re looking forward to seeing him pitch in regular games and see what he does. There’s nothing like watching guys with your own eyes and making assessments on where he fits best.”

Price did not rule out that Chapman could start this season in the Majors.

“He can start anywhere,” Price said. “But we want to assess him and make sure wherever he starts, it’s the right place. It might be Cincinnati. It might be someplace else in our system. I don’t know that yet.

“It’s a live arm and a kid ready to compete. I think this kid could go into a ballgame tomorrow and be ready to compete.”

Quiet, for now

The postseason has kept the news largely focused on the teams still playing and those with managerial vacancies. The Reds have been largely under the radar.

Some stuff to think about in the coming weeks:

The 40-man roster has to be set by Nov. 20. Among the prospects that will need protection are Chris Heisey, Travis Wood and Chris Valaika. Players drafted and signed at age 19 or older get four years in the minors before they have to be protected on a 40-man roster. The wait is five years for players taken at age 18 or younger. That means the Reds can wait one more year on Todd Frazier, who taken out of college in 2007.

“We’re in the process on developing a plan,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said on Thursday. “We have a number of players to protect on our 40-man roster, which means we have a lot of tough decisions on guys to keep on the roster or not.”

The $8.5 club option ($1M buyout) must be exercised or declined on catcher Ramon Hernandez. That doesn’t have to be decided until soon after the World Series. My take: the Reds won’t pick up the option but will try to re-negotiate for a lower-priced deal.

The shortstop situation is still fluid. Look for the Reds to scan the trade market.

Here are some other key dates:

Dec. 1, 2009
Last date for former Club to offer their free agents salary arbitration to receive compensation.

Dec. 7-10, 2009
Winter Meetings, Indianapolis. The Rule 5 Draft is Dec. 10 before everyone bugs out.

Dec. 12, 2009
Tender deadline

I was out of town when Bryan Price was named the pitching coach on Saturday. It sounds like a decent hire to me. Price was in Arizona with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren (and Micah Owings) and was in Seattle when young ace Felix Hernandez came to the Majors.

Jocketty liked Price’s ability as a teacher of young pitchers that can also handle the veterans well.

“He has experience teaching at the minor league level as a coordinator and coach and he’s had success at the Major League level,” Jocketty said. “He’s not a household name but once people see the work he does and how he relates with the pitchers, they’ll see why we liked him.”

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The next pitching coach is….???

As I wrote in a story on Monday, the Reds efforts to hire a new pitching coach are reaching the interviews stage some time this week while Walt Jocketty presides over meetings in Goodyear, Ariz.

A defined list of candidates isn’t known and unlike the Astros, which revealed their candidates for their managerial vacancy and the schedule for the interviews, Jocketty and the Reds aren’t likely to be as open about the process and will say little until there is a hire.

“We don’t have a timetable but we want to get it done sooner than later,” Jocketty said on Monday. “When we find the right guy, we’ll move on it.”

There isn’t a shortage of pitching coaches without teams — former A’s and Mets coach Rick Peterson expressed his interest already. Former Diamondbacks coach Bryan Price is also out there. As is Chris Bosio, who was the Brewers interim coach this season and until a couple of years ago, was in the Reds minor league system as the coach with Double-A Chattanooga. To the best of my knowledge, former Braves pitching guru Leo Mazzone hasn’t worked in baseball since he was let go by the Orioles. Carl Willis was just fired by the Indians but once presided over pitchers like Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia.

Of course, everyone is waiting to see what Dave Duncan does with the Cardinals.

Inside the organization, Ted Power worked with several members of the staff already at Triple-A Louisville. There is pitching coordinator Mack Jenkins. And then there is Mario Soto, who is well liked but has previously resisted the idea of being a full time coach in the Majors.

Of all the candidates, Duncan would likely be the most costly. It’d be like shelling out millions on a free agent player. You have to wonder what implications that would have on the payroll and the ability to add or keep players. Would that be worth it to you?

In the latest installment of “Fans play the GM,” who would you hire?

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