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The agent for several Cuban major leaguers said he could have defector Aroldis Chapman signed, in shape and ready for next spring training, but has not yet heard from Chapman, who he understood was on his way to Miami on Thursday after leaving the Cuban national team at a tournament in the Netherlands.
Jaime Torres, who has represented Jose Contreras(notes), Yunieski Betancourt, Alexei Ramirez(notes) and Dayan Viciedo(notes), among others, said he'd confirmed with the Cuban delegation that Chapman had defected. Chapman, who is left-handed and throws 100 mph, is one of the world's top pitching prospects. He is 21.
If he wants to avoid the draft and become a free agent, Chapman must first establish legal residency in a country outside of the U.S. or Cuba. The Dominican Republic has been a popular choice. Torres said he hoped to speak to Chapman before he chooses a representative.
“With the proper work and dedication and coaching he could make a team out of spring training, or maybe late in winter ball,” Torres said. “He could easily be a No. 2 in a rotation right now.
“The last pitcher I could compare him to is Contreras. He's proven himself at a high level.”
The baseball world was abuzz with the news of Chapman, who pitched in the World Baseball Classic. Many scouts observed during the second round of that tournament that the three best pitching prospects – San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg, Japan's Yu Darvish and Chapman – were within a few miles of each other.
A Yankees source said the club would be very interested in signing Chapman. Of course, said one general manager with a laugh, “I'm sure all 30 teams will be interested to some degree.”