Chandler Champlain is a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher the Royals received in the Andrew Benintendi trade on Wednesday night. Champlain was pitching in Tampa at the Yankees A-ball affiliate. Champlain was a 9th rounder in the 2021 MLB Draft by the Yankees out of USC. He has a big frame and throws from what I would call a normal arm angle.
Champlain throws a four-pitch mix. He throws a fastball which seems to have good carry albeit a little straight. There is just a hint of arm side movement occasionally but it seems to be pretty straight. The pitch was 92 to 98 mostly working around 94. Champlain and the Yankees like to throw the fastball up in the zone a lot.
Champlain’s favorite pitch is probably his slider. The pitch has power movement away from right-handed hitters. It has good sink and just runs away from righties. The pitch is between 82 and 87, mostly around 84. This has a lot of movement and produces a lot of ground balls as well as swing and misses. If you were using a clock to explain the break, it would be from about 10:30 to 4:30 from the batter’s perspective.
Champlain also throws more of a traditional 12-6 curve. This pitch has a different movement pattern than his slider and has good drop and is a good variation of a breaking ball. It is slower working from 77 to 81. Usually it is under 80 which adds a third velocity dynamic hitters have to adjust for. He seemed to throw it mostly against left-handed hitters but did throw a few to some right-handed hitters.
Champlain also throws the occasional change up. It was around 84 to 86 and seemed to have some sink. Left-handed hitters never really got a good swing on it with a few tappers foul and some swings and misses. However, this is the pitch that Champlain throws the least.
Champlain uses a hybrid stance when in the windup. He works from the first base side of the rubber. He’ll start his hands in front of his face before dropping them to his belt with his rocker step. From there, they make it back up to the middle of his chest where they work in sequence with his leg through the rest of the delivery. Champlain does use a high knee lift.
Out of the stretch, Champlain has some trouble holding runners. He never used a slide step and only used a leg lift which featured the high knee lift that he used out of the windup. There will have to be some adjustment as Champlain moves up in pro ball or he will be giving up a free base every time a runner reaches first.
Champlain does have decent foot speed for pickoffs. He doesn’t have the explosive feet some pickoff artists have, but he is quick. The move isn’t anything special, but he does possess several picks to first.
Champlain uses a quick tempo and doesn’t spend a lot of time in between pitches. He gets the ball, gets on the rubber, and is ready to go. He is quick throw his motion but doesn’t rush.
Champlain has a long way to go but has a four-pitch mix and has had some success as a starter. Champlain has thrown 73.1 innings so far this season with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Champlain has allowed 72 hits and 19 walks. He has struck out 94 hitters averaging 11.5 K/9 and almost a 5:1 K:BB ratio. He seems like he needs to adjust down in the strike zone a little but he is having success with what he is doing. We’ll see if the Royals make any adjustments to the aggressive up in the zone approach the Yankees used with most of his pitches.
There’s no reason to not let Champlain continue to work as a starter.. If he ever moves to the pen, his fastball will probably pick up a tick or two and he’ll be able to use his slider more often. Having the 12-6 curve is an equalizer for him as he can use it to mess with the hitter’s timing and give them a different breaking pattern. Champlain will have to continue to improve his change up and probably have to use it more as he gets to the higher levels of the minors. We know the Royals love pitchers with developed change ups so this is something they’ll have to develop now.