OAKLAND – Matt Chapman didn’t wait long to show the A’s home fans what those in Arizona saw all spring.
Oakland’s can’t-miss third base prospect mashed the first pitch he saw Saturday for a tape-measure homer to left field, leaving a lasting impression in the A’s 4-1 victory over the Giants to close the exhibition season.
Chapman, the 2014 first-round pick who was initially expected to be among the early cuts this spring, hit .295 in exhibitions and finished as the A’s leader in homers (six) and RBI (14). After the game, the 22-year-old got the news he was being reassigned to minor league camp, a move that was expected all along. He’ll begin the season with Double-A Midland, but after his showing in his first Major League camp, Chapman seems pegged for a fast track to the majors.
His homer off Josh Osich in the eighth was a rocket deep into the seats in left, landing just underneath the first row of luxury suites.
“It’s not a surprise to see a ball come off the bat like that with him,” A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie said. “He’s got legit power. You just want to see that guy continue to command an at-bat and let his ability play, because he’s got what it takes, that’s for sure.”
Chapman said the trot around the bases was a thrill before an announced crowd of 29,157.
“It was pretty unbelievable, to be able to get that kind of result in my first at-bat,” Chapman said. “You couldn’t really think it up any better.”
It was a memorable first game at the Coliseum, but not his first time in the batter’s box at the A’s park. His first experience in the venue came when he was still at Cal State Fullerton. Chapman flew up for a private pre-draft workout at the Coliseum in 2014 and put on a hitting display that cinched the A’s decision to select him.
Chapman used one of Josh Reddick’s old bats that day. He kept it and used it for the next couple months before it shattered. But to this day, Chapman still uses that model that Reddick used back then – an Old Hickory JB5.
As for this spring in particular, Chapman said he’ll take away plenty that he can use during his season.
“The big thing for me, it’s kind of a boost in confidence,” Chapman said, “to know that no matter what kind of slump you hit or no matter what happens here on out, wherever you go, to know that you can compete at the highest level. And for me to get that kind of experience and know I’m good enough to play at this level is pretty cool.”
Another Athletic also homered in his first at-bat at the Coliseum. Khris Davis hit a solo shot off Matt Cain in the third. That was a welcome introduction, as the A’s are banking on Davis to provide right-handed power in the lower half of the batting order.
Davis, who hit 27 homers for Milwaukee last season and was acquired in a February trade, knows the reputation that the Coliseum has as being a tough hitters’ park.
“I do what I do and take the elements out,” Davis said.
Lowrie had an eventful at-bat in the third, hitting a deep drive to center and circling all the way around the bases when the Giants’ Denard Span was charged with two errors on the play. The first was for not making the catch when he was under it and the second was when he had trouble picking the ball up on the warning track.
It was an unexpected test of Lowrie’s endurance.
“I saw him drop that ball when I was going second to third. I looked up and Wash (third base coach Ron Washington) was waving me, so I just kept running,” Lowrie said. “Needless to say, we don’t practice sprinting home to home very often.”