Although the Oakland A's were connected before the draft to several high school position players, the A's went the collegiate route with their first pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Cal-State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman comes to the A's with power potential, a plus arm and some questions about his overall hit tool, according to Scout.com's National Baseball Analyst Kiley McDaniel.
McDaniel had this to say about Chapman in a recent scouting report: "I loved his infield and batting practice for Team USA, flashing huge raw power that rivaled Kyle Schwarber [the fourth-overall pick], along with a plus-plus arm that some call an 80 and has hit the upper 90's on the mound, though he's thrown just an handful of innings in the last few years. Chapman is at least an average third baseman, so the only question is the bat. His performances haven't been terrible, but he basically hasn't shown the ability to hit and hit for power at the same time at any point in his career."
The complete scouting report and video of Chapman can be view here.
Right now, Chapman considers his defense as his biggest strength. Mostly a third baseman in college, Chapman played shortstop during his freshman year with the Titans and for most of his high school career. He also has experience at second base, although his arm strength would suggest that his future home is on the left-side of the infield.
Chapman believes that there isn't a third baseman in college baseball who can handle the position defensively better than he can.
"I think my glove and defense is definitely a tool and I am going to find a way to help my team win with my offense," Chapman said.
Chapman hit .312 with six homers and 48 RBI this season for the Titans. He walked 27 times and had a .412 OBP. While he has shown significant power potential in batting practice, Chapman knows he is an unfinished product offensively.
"The power is there. It's just a matter of making it more consistent and making those small adjustments with my swing that will allow me to drive a few more balls," Chapman said. "I always want to get better offensively. I never want to limit myself. I'm always hungry to get better and tap into more things that I am able to."
Chapman spent last summer on Team USA and he hit .278 for the stars-and-stripes. He believes that experience will help him as he enters professional baseball.
"It was good to size myself up against the best of the best and gain confidence in knowing that I can compete just as well as those guys," Chapman said. "The experience was great. Being able to wear the USA logo across your chest and represent your country was an amazing experience. Not many people get to do that. I felt privileged to do that."
While playing for Team USA, he actually made two brief appearances as a pitcher. Chapman has always been a position player and he doesn't plan on making a switch to the mound, but he did open some eyes by hitting 98 MPH.
"I didn't really pitch. I just threw as hard as I could, but it kind of worked out," Chapman said of his time on the mound.
"That's always something to have in the back pocket obviously, but my goal is to play in the infield and hit and play everyday. I have the right mentality to play everyday and I know that I have what it takes to play everyday."
Chapman wasn't connected that frequently to the A's leading up to the draft, but he traveled to Oakland earlier this week and worked out in front of the A's front office and scouts at the Coliseum.
"Some of the guys who may have not seen me before got a chance to see me," Chapman said. "I showed what I could do and I guess it paid off."
Chapman, who is represented by super agent Scott Boras, is thrilled with his opportunity with the A's.
"My initial reaction was just so happy. I still just can't believe that I am going to get to play baseball at the next level. I'm very blessed to be able to do that," Chapman said.
"The organization is great. I got a chance to meet some of them the other day. They just have great personalities and they seem like they are on the same page. Everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope and everyone has the same common goal."