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Angels remain in hunt for Aroldis Chapman

January 7, 2010 |  5:07 pm

The Angels continue to pursue Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year-old left-hander whose fastball was recently clocked at 97 mph, but there have been conflicting Internet reports over the past day or two as to the level of their interest and the chances of signing him. reported Wednesday night that the Angels were "trying like crazy" to sign Chapman, who is expected to command a deal in excess of $15 million, but Yahoo Sports quoted an unnamed source as saying the Angels "were not in that deep" with Chapman.

Angels scouting director Eddie Bane attended Chapman's indoor workout in Houston in mid-December and apparently gave a very favorable recommendation to General Manager Tony Reagins and owner Arte Moreno.

"Oh, sure," Bane said, when asked if Chapman has high-end, major league potential. "He's not a polished product; he's just something you'd like to have. I would think all 30 major league teams would like to have him."

One factor working in the Angels' favor is that Chapman, who many believe will start at the Class-A or double-A level, has reportedly developed a friendship with Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, who, like Chapman, defected from Cuba.

As many as 15 clubs, including Toronto, Boston and Florida, have reportedly expressed interest in Chapman, but the New York Yankees have said they will not be involved in the bidding.

The Angels have three solid young starters in Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, and a high-end left-handed prospect in Trevor Reckling, but the loss of ace John Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82.5-million deal with the Red Sox, has left a considerable void in their rotation.

-- Mike DiGiovanna