Standing 17 games behind the Astros in the AL West and with several teams to jump over in the wild-card race, the Athletics are looking to the future. To that end, they recently called up outfielder Jaycob Brugman and on Thursday called up No. 3 prospect Matt Chapman.
Chapman is likely to usurp the playing time of Trevor Plouffe, who has a .214/.276/.357 slash line.
A 2014 first-round pick from Cal State Fullerton, Chapman came into pro ball with a gap-to-gap hitting approach. He has learned to drive balls with more regularity and now shows above-average in-game power. In 2015, Chapman reworked his swing with high Class A Stockton hitting coach Brian McArn to tap into his power, and it has worked. He moved his hands back a little and found a consistent spot to start and trigger his swing, load his legs and explode into the ball. However, his swing remains long, meaning he’ll always strike out at a high rate. However, he has solid-average pitch recognition and will draw walks, which will help boost his on-base percentage. Because of his swing, he’s likely to be a below-average hitter.
On defense, Chapman has Gold Glove potential skill. He projects to be a plus defender and has a plus-plus arm. As Susan Slusser pointed out, Chapman will not be able to gain Super Two arbitration status with the timing of this callup, but a team official said Chapman was ready to make the jump and that his bat and defense should boost the club.
He could make his big league debut Thursday against the Yankees and lefthander Jordan Montgomery. Chapman’s splits have not been consistent, and this year he’s had just 25 at-bats against lefthanders, going 8-for-25. Against righthanders, he’s slugging .604 with 15 of his 16 homers.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Homers, strikeouts and good defense. Chapman has been compared to Brandon Inge, a career .233 hitter who had home run power and played stellar defense.