Editor's note: The above video is from the March 31 edition of SportsTalk Live.
A's third base prospect Matt Chapman, who was the talk of spring camp with his impressive glove and bat, is getting some time at shortstop.
That’s a noteworthy development as the A’s continue gauging the progress of all their left side-of-the-infield prospects, the most talent-rich positions in their farm system.
It doesn’t signal a position change for Chapman, who is widely regarded as having Gold Glove potential as a major league third baseman. But A’s officials clearly are intrigued to see how he looks at short while playing with Double-A Midland. Keith Lieppman, the A’s director of player development, noted that Chapman appeared comfortable at shortstop when Midland employed an infield shift while he was playing third base.
“It’s all open,” Lieppman said of the idea of Chapman at short. “Everybody who sees him play there says he’s got great reactions, a big arm, good hands. So let’s start playing around with it to see how good he can be there.”
A side benefit to giving Chapman time at short -- it allows the A’s to experiment with other infielders at different spots, and they always like their top prospects to be as versatile as possible. Shortstop Franklin Barreto, ranked Oakland’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America, has slid over to get time at second base, while another highly regarded shortstop with Midland, Yairo Munoz, has played a bit of third base.
Chapman, who led the A’s in homers and RBI during Cactus League exhibitions, entered Wednesday night's play hitting .268 with Midland, second in the Texas League with 11 homers and leading the league with 56 strikeouts.
After two home runs, three RBI, two runs and a strikeout, he now leads the Texas League in big flies and punchouts.
Lieppman said a key for Chapman at the plate is using the entire field, something he did quite well against major league pitchers in spring training.
“I think he’s gonna be a better hitter and cut down on the strikeouts,” Lieppman said. “When he can stick with that (opposite field approach), he’s really good. When he gets pull happy, that’s when he gets in trouble.”