Once a pitcher with velocity clocked as high as 98 miles per hour, Matt Chapman possesses the arm necessary to be a standout third baseman.
Along with a career range factor rating (3.12) comparable to that of the Colorado Rockies’ perennial Gold Glove-winning cornerman Nolan Arenado (3.21), the 2014 Oakland Athletics first-round draft pick is among the top defenders in minor league baseball.
Monday, Chapman was honored as such, garnering selection to MLB Pipeline’s All-Defensive Team.
Chapman, the Oakland Athletics‘ No. 4 overall prospect according to Baseball America, is ticketed for Major League arrival some time in 2017. Not only will he bring that established defensive prowess but offensive production as well, with his 39 home runs and 104 RBI per 162 games played.
The 23 year-old suffered through the lowest single-season batting average (.237) of his career in 2016, a season in which he made his entrance into the Triple-A ranks — going 15-for-76 (.197) in 18 games — making that his most obvious area of needed growth. Though, that growth is not a necessity considering his 39 homers a year ago.
With Chapman’s pending ascension, 2016 breakout rookie Ryon Healy (.05/.337/.524 slash) will likely find himself at his natural first base position giving the A’s their corner infield of the future.
The anticipation of the A’s future cresting the horizon lends some sense to the team’s recent acquisition of third baseman Trevor Plouffe who, according to Ken Rosenthal, struck a one-year deal with the club.
Plouffe, a likely rental fix for 2017 alone, allows Healy to make the transition back to first. Simultaneously, the signing supplants the offense with an additional power threat (22 home runs per 162 games) and an otherwise young infield with the experience of a seven-year pro.
Joining Chapman, who is No. 94 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, Franklin Barreto (No. 43 ), 2016 first round pick A.J. Puk (No. 65) and Grant Holmes (No. 68) make up the team’s top four minor league talents.
Avoiding salary arbitration, the A’s reached deals with Yonder Alonso, Sonny Gray, Liam Hendriks and Stephen Vogt. Khris Davis, who sports economist Matt Schwartz predicts will receive $5 million following an arbitration hearing, is the only remaining arb-eligible player remaining on the roster.