Strasburg and Chapman Arrive On the Scene
There is a lot of skilled young talent set to debut at the major league level this season, guys like Jason Heyward in Atlanta or possibly Pedro Alvarez in Pittsburgh.
Today, however, was about a couple of elite prospects who simply made their first professional start in a minor league uniform. Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban defector whom the Reds chose to send to AAA Louisville to start the season, faced off against the Toledo Mud Hens, a Detroit Tigers affiliate.
Chapman looked good, striking out nine of the 21 batters he faced and only allowing four balls to leave the infield. The Louisville defense might force the Reds to bring him up sooner than later, though. A defense that only makes three outs on nine ground balls behind you is not one to build confidence with.
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, had a similarly up and down performance, though not necessarily due to his defense. He got into some early trouble by allowing three base runners and one run with two outs in the first, but settled in and struck out five of the next seven batters he faced.
In the fourth, he struck out two more batters, but also gave up three runs on back-to-back singles up the middle. Strasburg settled and finished off the fifth inning for the win.
The jury is still out just a bit on both players after today. Both performed admirably given it was their first professional start, but neither faced a lineup known for being patient and collected at the plate. It's a good start for both, but there is a lot of baseball yet to play.