Sunday, January 15, 2012

Prospect Countdown: #25 Kevin Chapman

#25 Kevin Chapman

Age: 23
Position: LHP
Height: 6-4
Weight: 210
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th Round of the 2010 Amateur Draft
From: Coral Springs, Florida

Yes, I know Kevin posted a 4.94 ERA in 2011. Yes, I know that his career minor league ERA is 5.06. But I'm still putting him at #25 on the Royal Revival Prospect Countdown. The primary reason why I'm doing this is because Chapman has an electric arm.

Just look at Chapman's K-rates and tell me there isn't back end of the bullpen upside. Chapman has never posted a K/9 below 10, and his career mark is 12.4. Granted, Chapman has struggled with command, but despite that he has maintained a K/BB over 3, while allowing less than a HR/9. Obviously the Royals want to see Chapman to continue to improve his command, but even if he were to fail to do so, he still could be a solid big league reliever.

The walks are clearly, part of the reason that Chapman's ERA has consistently been high. But in 2011, we also know that Chapman gave up an extraordinarily high batting average on balls in play (.460 in Wilmington). Often times BABIP is used as an excuse for a poor performing pitcher or as a deterrent for an overperforming one. It is definitely a statistic that has now become a bit overused, but if you can trace it back to something more basic there are things that can be learned.

At the Major League level, it is typically expected that BABIP should be  about 12% higher than a player's line drive percentage or line drive percentage allowed assuming ground ball and flyball percentages are around league average. In the minor leagues this gap is probably larger, thanks to worse fielders, and poorer infield quality. As a result ground ball pitchers will often have higher BABIPS than fly ball counterparts.

Chapman does get his fair share of ground balls. But when his opponents' line drive percentage is 17% and his opponents' BABIP is .460 this cries a bit foul. Chapman possesses a mid-90s fastball, with a knockout slider, for a reliever he also throws a solid change. Like I said, the guy's arm is electric.

Thanks to a deep Kansas City pen the Royals can afford to be patient with their relief prospects. With that being said I expect to see Chapman in Kansas City at some point in 2012.

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