For the third time in less than a week, a homegrown Oakland Athletics prospect will make his major-league debut. Oakland A’s third-best prospect Matt Chapman will be called up from Triple-A Nashville to the big leagues on Thursday. The SF Chronicle‘s Susan Slusser was first to report the news about Chapman’s promotion.
The 24-year-old out of Cal State-Fullerton was the A’s top pick (#25 overall) in the June 2014 draft. Coming into the season Chapman was ranked as the 88th-best prospect in all of baseball – and sixth at his position – by mlbpipeline.
Known for his great glove, cannon of an arm and power at the plate, Chapman has rapidly climbed the minor league ladder, going from rookie league to Triple-A in just three years. He was the Double-A Texas League Player of the year last season, when he hit .244/.335/.521 with 29 homers in 117 games with the Midland RockHounds.
This year at Triple-A Nashville, Chapman has already hit 16 home runs in just 48 games despite playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly First Tennessee Park. Despite a slow start, Chapman has a slash line of .259/.350/.592 for an OPS of 942 for the Sounds.
Nearly all of that production came after Chapman missed a significant part of April with a wrist injury.
“I just took a few kind of funky swings, and then got hit by a ball in the wrist, and then it just kind of swelled up on me,” Chapman said. “I think it was just kind of a freak thing, so I took a little extra precaution before I came back, and I’m glad I took that extra time off because I have no worries and I feel great. I’m 100 percent now. I tried to play through it a little bit but it just wasn’t working out, but everything is back on track now.
“I just let it rest and got on some anti inflammatories and some treatment and worked with our trainers, and they did a really good job. It feels great.”
Chapman credits some of his recent success to being invited to big league camp this spring; it was his second time as a non-roster player in big league camp.
“I definitely knew what to expect going into big league camp this time,” he said. “The first time, I was definitely nervous and didn’t know what to expect and was just kind of feeling a lot of things out. The second time, I knew some more guys and the coaching staff was more familiar with everybody and how it was going to go; the schedule and how things operating and when I should get there and how I should be doing certain things, so it was nice going into big league camp this year. It really helped a lot.”
Although Chapman has had a strong start to the season, he said he is always looking to improve – especially at the plate. One concern is strikeouts, as he has struck out 63 times in 174 at bats this year and 173 times in 514 at-bats last year.
“I think it’s something that’s always addressed, and we’re aware of it, and I’m aware of it,” Chapman said. “Obviously, I never want to strike out – that’s not the plan – but that comes with the territory. For me, it’s something I always want to keep improving on, and I think it has gotten a little bit better; but there’s not too much emphasis put on it. Obviously there is some [attention to it], since the more the ball is in play you have opportunity to get hits and become a better hitter – I wouldn’t say there’s too much emphasis, but it’s there and we’re aware of it and it’s obviously something I’m working on.”
Chapman says the Sounds’ coaching staff has put in time with him to improve his contact rate.
“I’ve just been working hard with the hitting coach, Eric Martins, and working with the manager, Ryan Christenson, too,” he said of the Nashville staff. “I’m just trying to be consistent and take each at bat individually and try to separate each at bat and just take it day-to-day and just grind hard and stick to my approach.”
The goal, he said, is consistency.
“Whether it’s my pitch selection or how I approach a certain pitcher, I think I’ve got my swing dialed in and just working with some drills and making sure I’m staying short, but the most part, just sticking to my approach,” Chapman said.
And now he gets to try that approach at a higher level.
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