The A’s selected Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman with their first round pick (25th overall) in Thursday’s amateur draft.
A first-team All-Big West selection as a junior this past season, Chapman was not drafted out of high school but developed into a Major League prospect over three seasons with the Titans.
“I was a good high school player, but I think I was still growing into myself as a player,” Chapman said on a media conference call Thursday night. “I needed to mature more physically. I flew under the radar quite a bit, but once I got to Cal State Fullerton and showed what I could do, it took it on to the next level.”
Chapman was rated the 64th best overall draft prospect by Baseball America, so the A’s reached on him in the eyes of some. The right-handed hitter batted .312 with six home runs and 48 RBI this season. He also turned heads when he hit 98 miles per hour on the mound while making pitching cameos for Team USA, but Chapman believes he can hit well enough at the next level to prove he can stay in the infield.
Speaking about his defense, Chapman said: “I would say I’m the best third baseman in college baseball. That’s my personal opinion.”
The A’s put him through a private workout at the Coliseum two days ago, and he said he got a great feeling from everyone he met in the organization. A native of Trabuco Canyon, Chapman grew up an Angels fan but added with a touch of humor: “It’s never too late to change your favorite team, right?”
Here’s Baseball America’s scouting report on Chapman (shown, right): “He has the actions and instincts to be an above-average defender. He has plenty of strength in his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, projecting for average power, but his line-drive swing is more tailored for driving doubles from gap-to-gap.”
But the velocity he’s shown on the mound could also make pitching an intriguing possibility, particularly for an organization that converted Sean Doolittle from first base prospect to Major League closer. The A’s have also converted another prospect, outfielder Jeremy Barfield, to the mound.
Asked about the prospect of pitching in the pros, Chapman said: “It’s always something to have in your back pocket, but my goal is to hit and play in the infield and play every single day. … The power is there, it’s just a matter of making it more consistent and making adjustments in my swing to drive a few more balls.”
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Chapman played some second base in high school and got some innings at shortstop for Cal State Fullerton as a freshman before settling at third base as a sophomore and junior.
The A’s obviously are set at third base for the foreseeable future with Josh Donaldson, rapidly becoming one of the majors’ best at his position. Their best third base prospect currently in the farm system is Renato Nunez, playing with Single-A Stockton and rated by Baseball America as the A’s No. 5 prospect.
Photo of Matt Chapman courtesy of USATSI.