Matt Chapman may not have been drafted out of high school, but the A’s were definitely aware of him going back to his prep days.
When the third baseman was available to Oakland in the first round Thursday, scouting director Eric Kubota said the team didn’t hesitate to snatch him up with the 25th overall pick.
“He has a chance to be an elite defender at third base,” Kubota said on a conference call Thursday night. “He can really throw, a guy who’s fun to just watch throw. We think his bat is ever improving and we think there’s untapped power there.”
Despite that rifle arm, and despite Chapman wowing Team USA coaches in short stints on the mound, Kubota said there’s no plan of switching Chapman to pitching.
“We have no intention of doing that.”
Chapman, a first-team All-Big West player who led Cal State Fullerton with 48 RBI this season, scored high marks with the A’s for his makeup. Kubota was asked about the confidence that led Chapman to proclaim himself the best defensive third baseman in college baseball.
“I read what he said,” Kubota said. “I’m glad he’s confident in those abilities, and I think he actually might not know how good he can be.”
Kubota half-jokingly compared his set of skills to current A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson – “when I wake up at 3 in the morning in the middle of a dream, that’s what I envision” – but the A’s do see Chapman, 21, sticking at third base.
What does that mean for the future? Donaldson, enjoying what is so far an MVP-caliber season, is under team control through the 2018 season. Chapman must fight his way to the majors first, and then the A’s will worry if his path might be blocked.
[RELATED: A’s gear up for start of amateur draft]
With their second-round pick Thursday, the A’s chose Clemson right-hander Daniel Gossett with the 65th overall selection. Gossett went 7-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 starts this season, striking out 107 and walking 30 in 107 1/3 innings.
Because he’s considered a bit undersized – Gossett is listed at 6-1, 195 pounds but some think he’s smaller – and because he went to school in the south, the natural comparison will be to current A’s ace Sonny Gray.
“I don’t like comparing anybody to Sonny Gray,” Kubota said with a chuckle. “One comparison I would make is stature-wise they’re similar, but I think Gossett is a little bit taller.”
The three-day draft continues Friday with rounds 3 through 10.