Being a 30th round pick isn’t an easy stigma to get around in professional baseball. However, outfielder Ethan Chapman is doing a nice job with the opportunity he has been given.
Drafted by the KC Royals out of Cal State San Bernardino in 2012, Chapman went to rookie level Idaho Falls after signing and hit .313 with nine doubles and nine triples in 67 games (281 at-bats). He also stole 25 bases and had a .383 on-base percentage. Those numbers earned him Chukars Player of the Year honors, which he said in an interview put him on the map in the Royals organization.
In 2013, Chapman started the season with Low-A Lexington and struggled a bit there (.238 with six doubles in 62 games). He still earned a promotion to High-A Wilmington just before the All-Star break (mid-June).
With the Blue Rocks, Chapman shifted between left and center fielder (he even played one game in right field) while shifting between the top and bottom of the lineup. He hit .251 with six doubles in 68 games. His strikeouts went up (from 36 in Lexington to 44 in Wilmington), but that is expected when facing better pitching at a higher level.
Chapman made the adjustments with Wilmington and hit .288 in August with three doubles and eight RBIs (half of his 16).
Chapman is a great defender, as the video below shows (via Mark Edgemon on youtube). He committed five total errors between the two levels in 2013 and had 12 outfield assists.
Though he has speed, Chapman has not quite mastered the art of stealing a base. He did steal 32 total bases in 2013, but he was caught 18 times. That is something he will need to work on, especially if he continues to be a singles hitter.
I expect Chapman to start the 2014 season back in the Blue Rocks outfield. I would like to see him take advantage of spacious Frawley Stadium to leg out some doubles and triples. To me, that is the only thing holding him back.
*Oh and Chapman is great in the community. Just check his Twitter feed. He is usually doing something to raise money (like shaving his head for the fight against cancer).