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Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects: No. 6, Aroldis Chapman

The Reds' fireballer has the look of an elite future closer

By

Updated March 23, 2011

When we embarked on this project of ranking the top 10 prospects from a fantasy baseball perspective, we knew most of the names wouldn't be familiar with the majority of the fans of America's pastime.

One name, however, is pretty popular. And it's because of one attribute -- a fastball that has been clocked as high as 105 mph, the fastest pitch ever record in the major leagues.

Meet Aroldis Chapman, the sixth-ranked player on our list.

As we wrote in the debut piece on Lonnie Chisenhall, we started this project with three rules of thumb: 1. Each player must be under 24 years old. 2. A position player has to have fewer than 100 at-bats in the majors, and a pitcher must have thrown fewer than 40 innings in the bigs. 3. The top 10 are ranked according to how effective we think they will be in fantasy baseball. The 2011 season would be nice, but we're more focused on how they will perform in the future and their staying power.

Up next: The reliever who can be as wild as he is fast.

6. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds

Two quotes to remember

Essential information

Those two quotes sum up the dilemma that is Aroldis Chapman's future in a nutshell.

He has the lights-out stuff of a closer. But he was signed to a six-year, $30.25 million contract by the Reds in January 2010 to be a starter.

In 2010, Chapman was mediocre in 13 starts in Triple-A, finishing 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

He was switched to a reliever and he appeared to be the answer to the Reds' potential ninth-inning hole in 2012.

Chapman was 2-2 with a 2.03 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 15 games for Cincinnati last season. He struck out 19 in 13 1/3 innings and lit up the radar gun more impressively than even Stephen Strasburg.

So is he a starter or reliever?

For now, he's a setup man to closer Francisco Cordero, and don't be surprised if Chapman takes over for the latter in 2012. The Reds haven't ruled out switching Chapman back to a starter in the future, but they're also well aware of Cordero's occasional struggles in 2010 (eight blown saves, 3.84 ERA, 1.43 WHIP). The 2011 season also marks the final guaranteed year of the 35-year-old Cordero's contract.

Chapman was given $30 million after defecting from Cuba to be a starter, but he seems best suited as the closer whose fastball and slider are more confusing to hitters in one-inning increments.

Unlike most of the players in our top 10, Chapman could have an impact on the 2011 fantasy baseball season should Cordero continue to falter.

Regardless, he's fun to watch, even when he's walking more than a batter every two innings, as he did in his time in the minor leagues.

If you're in an NL-only league, Chapman is worth a look late in the draft as a potential stud closer. The Reds might not be certain of his role, but us fantasy general managers sure seem to have it figured out.

PREVIOUS: No. 7, Shelby Miller

NEXT: No. 5, Jesus Montero

2011 fantasy baseball rankings:

Catchers, First basemen, Second basemen, Shortstops, Third basemen, Designated hitters, Outfielders, Starting pitchers, Closers, Top 100 overall, Guide to our 2011 fantasy rankings, Guide to the top keepers

For updates, analysis and links during the season, follow Kevin Kleps on Twitter.

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