A's select third baseman Chapman in first round

A's select third baseman Chapman in first round

NEW YORK -- Matt Chapman is a third baseman with experience throwing 98 mph out of the bullpen.

Does that mean the A's 2014 first-round Draft pick could eventually move to the mound, a la Sean Doolittle?

That's not in the plans.

"Never," said scouting director Eric Kubota. "We have no intention of doing that."

"I consider myself strictly an infielder," said Chapman, who pitched in relief for Team USA last summer. "Obviously third base is where I've been labeled, but I can play second base and shortstop, so wherever I'm needed is where I'll play. I know I can hit at the next level, and once I tap into that power, I don't see the need for me to ever pitch. I think my glove and defense is definitely a tool, and I'm going to find ways to help the team win with my offense.

"[Pitching] is something I have in my pocket, but my goal is to hit and play the infield every single day."

That's why the A's took a chance on him with the 25th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. They also selected Clemson right-hander Daniel Gossett with the 65th overall pick in the second round.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 9:30 am PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. PT.

Chapman, a Cal State Fullerton product who worked out in front of A's executives and scouts at the Coliseum earlier this week, is considered to be an excellent defender with a rocket of an arm. At the plate, he boasts raw power that could develop into something special, along with a good approach.

"The power is there," Chapman said on a conference call Thursday evening. "It's just a matter of making it more consistent and making those small adjustments in my swing to be able to drive a few more balls. I've always wanted to get better offensively. I'm hungry to get better."

"We do think his bat is ever improving, and we think there's untapped power there," said Kubota, "and we think this is a guy that's going to develop into a power hitter."

So much so that, despite his hesitation in making comparisons between any two players, Kubota noted Chapman's potential to mirror a familiar face in Josh Donaldson.

"He's very, very strong. I think it's easy to just compare him to the third baseman we have now," Kubota said. "When I wake up at three in the morning from the middle of a dream, that's kind of what I envision. I don't want to compare him to Josh, but that's kind of the profile that, if everything comes together, we're hoping to get here."

Chapman, who turned 21 in April, hit .312 with six home runs and a team-leading 48 RBIs this season for the Titans, adding 27 walks next to just 26 strikeouts for a .412 on-base percentage. The right-handed-hitting infielder, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs in around 210 pounds, also compiled 16 doubles and stole six bases en route to being named to the All-Big West Conference's First Team.

He's the sixth position player taken by the A's with their first-round pick in the last seven years, with current staff ace Sonny Gray (2011) being the exception. Gray was also the last college player to be drafted in the first round by the A's, who plucked a pair of prep players (Addison Russell, '12; Billy McKinney, '13) with their first selections the previous two years.

"I'm still in shock," said Chapman, a native of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. "Finally all of your hard work pays off. I know the A's play old-school, hard-nosed baseball, and they play as a team, and I feel like that's exactly how I go about my business. I think it's a great fit."

The Southern California product, represented by super agent Scott Boras, grew up an Angels fan but was quick to say, "It's never too late to change your favorite team, right?"

The A's are expected to groom Chapman as a third baseman, and his experience in the middle of the infield perfectly fits in with Oakland's versatile ways. He grew up modeling his game after the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki.

Defensively, he says, "I was the best third baseman in college baseball last year. That's my personal opinion. I know that my arm strength and my glove can change a game defensively."

Kubota is drawn to such confidence.

"We definitely like his makeup," he said. "This is a kid we know real well. I think he is confident and I think there's part of him, too, that's a little naïve in how good he may end up becoming. I think, if his talents continue to improve, I think he actually may not know how good he can be."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.