Matt Chapman, a third baseman from Cal State Fullerton who is Oakland’s first-round draft pick, seems like a natural for the A’s.
He’s got some power, he walks in addition to hits (a .312 average and .412 on-base percentage this year) and he has some power, as a .498 slugging percentage suggests.
With their second pitch, 65th overall, the A’s tabbed Clemson right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett, who was 7-2 with a 1,93 ERA. he’s 6-1, 185 pounds.
Chapman sees the similarities between the A’s style and his, too.
“I know the A’s play old school baseball,’’ he said in a conference call Thursday. “That’s how I go about my business. It’s a good fit.’’
He’s spent the last three years with the Titans, his freshman year as a shortstop and the last two seasons at third base. When he wasn’t playing for Fullerton he led Team USA’s Collegiate National Team last summer with 20 RBIs while playing shortstop.
“I think playing for Team USA will definitely help me,’’ he said. “I surrounded myself with the best players in the country, people I will compete against or play with for the rest of my career. Wearing the USA logo is an amazing experience.’’
Chapman said he likes to play the way the Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia does, Pedroia being another old school guy. Physically he says he sees a resemblance to two quality third basemen, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria.
And Chapman seems to have a little of the versatility the A’s crave – he made two pitching appearances on the national team and reached 98 mph while doing it. That being said, he did not pitch for Fullerton and he has no plans to pitch for the A’s organization, either, although he would not rule out a change of position.
“I consider myself strictly an infielder,’’ Chapman said. “I know I can hit at the next level. I don’t see the need for me ever to pitch. I can help with the glove. I think I could play shortstop or second base.
“My greatest strength is my defense. My personal opinion is I was the best defensive third baseman in college baseball this year.’’
A’s scouting guru Eric Kuboda, who ruled out having Chapman pitch, said “we think he could play shortstop, but we really see him as a third baseman starting out and continuing on.”
That being said, the numbers say he can hit a little. He had 16 doubles, two triples and six homers for the Titans this year to go with a team-high 48 RBIs.
A 5-foot-11, 185-pounder coming out of high school, he wasn’t drafted, and says he “flew under the radar.’’ But he’s 6-foot-2, 215 now and, the scouts suggest, ready to be a good hitter.
“I’ve never been drafted before,’’ Chapman said. “I was a good high school player, but I was still growing into myself. I needed to mature more physically.
“As I’ve matured and grown into my body, I took off from there.’’
A right-hander, he’s described as having good baseball instincts and a hard-nosed way of playing the game.
Scouts say he’s likely to stay at third base professionally, having shown that he has the quick reactions, good footwork and powerful arm that scouts like to see.
The A’s may get a good look at Chapman within the next week. The A’s are in Southern California for three games starting Monday against the Angels, and Fullerton is just down the road from Anaheim.
“It was amazing,’’ he said of the draft-day experience. I’m still kind of in shock, knowing that finally all your hard work has paid off and you get the dividends. My initial reaction is that I’m so happy. I still can’t even believe I get to play baseball at the next level.’’
Chapman, who will be represented by agent Scott Boras, grew up an Angels fan, but he likes the A’s.
“Their organization is great. It seems like they all pull on the same end of the rope,’’ Chapman said. He was in Oakland two days ago to work out for Oakland’s scouting personnel. “I grew up an Angels fan, but it’s never too late to change your favorite team, right?’’
Gossett was a good pitcher on an underperforming Clemson team. He struck out 107 in 107.1 innings and walked just 30.
Scouts like his slider as the best of his three pitches; he also throws a hard fastball and a changeup. And while he was a starter in college, he could be moved to the bullpen by the A’s down the line, although Kuboda said the club sees him as a starter.
“He’s a proven college performer,” Kuboda said. “He throws 92094 (mph), he throws strikes, he has an out pitch (the slider) and a good changeup. He’s got good stuff with performance. He’s a guy we’ve liked since high school.”