Rick Horton's favorite player: Aroldis Chapman

Rick Horton's favorite player: Aroldis Chapman

ST. LOUIS -- Rick Horton, whose Major League pitching career spanned seven years and included stops in three cities, still has a front-row seat to the game with his current position as an analyst for Cardinals' broadcasts. Yet out of all the players he sees each season, he doesn't hesitate when asked which he most looks forward to watching.

That would be Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

"I think that might stem from the fact that my answer 20 years ago would have been Nolan Ryan," Horton said. "It would have been Nolan Ryan because he was capable of doing something nobody could do every single night in terms of how hard he was throwing. He could strike out 18 guys. He could throw a perfect game. He was just head and shoulders above everybody else, and I feel that way about Chapman.

"His velocity and his slider, it's just devastating. Guys can't hit it. To strike out two guys an inning shows that there is a guy who has so much talent, so many gifts that are head and shoulders above everybody else. I like to see that. I like to see somebody who has really perfected their craft and is able to dominate."

Horton sees Chapman more than most, too, given that the Reds and Cardinals match up 19 times each season as National League Central rivals. In 26 career appearances against the Cards, Chapman has posted a 2.59 ERA while notching 11 saves and striking out 38 in 24 1/3 innings.

"When you're throwing 100 miles per hour where you want it, he's just playing around almost," Horton said. "I just think it's extraordinary, his giftedness. He's an absolute game-changer."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.