He likely wouldn't be ready to contribute on Opening Day. And there's a chance he won't set foot on a big league mound in 2010. But you can add at least one intriguing name to Ruben Amaro Jr.'s wish list in his hunt for pitching this offseason.
The Phillies are one of a number of teams who have been keeping a close eye on Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, according to league sources familiar with the team's thinking. And while the club is uncertain about how the market for the hard-throwing 21-year-old lefthander will develop, his raw physical ability has piqued their interest.
Phillies representatives, like those of most major league teams, have seen Chapman pitch a couple of times over the last year, including in San Diego in March when he started for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. His main selling point is a fastball that has been clocked as high as 102 miles per hour, an aberation for a left-handed pitcher. And while he struggles at times with his command - in his one WBC start in San Diego, he allowed three runs and walked three in 2 1/3 innings - many scouts who have seen him pitch believe he has the ability to some day pitch near the top of a major league rotation.
But there are plenty of unknowns about Chapman, from his command to the obvious lifestyle changes that will confront a young man who has recently fled the only country he has ever known.