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Chapman returns to roots

Sylas WrightSierra Sun
File photoJason Chapman, a 2006 Truckee High grad and 44th-round selection by the Cincinnati Reds in the June major league draft, transferred from Western Nevada Community College in Carson City to Mendocino College in Ukiah to play baseball.
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Jason Chapman has decided to take his bat elsewhere.After appearing in only about half of the Western Nevada Community College baseball teams 18 fall league games, the 2006 Truckee High grad transferred to Mendocino (junior) Collage to play in his home town of Ukiah.Not being able to play all the time was not a good situation for me, he said of his experience at WNCC in Carson City. I kind of felt like if I wasnt going to play all the time, I might as well go somewhere where I would.Chapman, who was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 44th round of the major league draft this past June, signed a letter of intent with WNCC on July 20 after being offered a scholarship. Although the Wildcats play in a competitive wood bat league, which was part of the attraction for Chapman, the relationship was not meant to be, he said.I think we just had a conflict of style, said Chapman, who batted between .295 and .300 and was placed in left field when he did see game time. It wasnt the right fit. I pulled the trigger too quick on choosing a school.Chapman is accustomed to playing up the middle, as he was the center fielder at Ukiah High before transferring his senior year to Truckee, where he became the Wolverines shortstop. At Mendocino, Chapman said he may move to third base or return to his familiar center field.Its up in the air right now, he said.Regardless of his position, Chapman is happy about his new situation.Im excited for school and for baseball, he said. I think we have a good team. Were pretty young but we have some really good players. I think we can shock some people.Mike Ellis, head baseball coach at Truckee, thinks Chapman made the right decision leaving WNCC for Mendocino.This is the best thing for him, he said. Chapman is gonna be good no matter where he goes. He just needs to play. You cant do anything from the bench.About Chapmans lack of playing time at WNCC, Ellis questioned why the program would offer Chapman a scholarship only to not play him.You dont sit a kid whos drafted out of high school, Ellis said. Youve gotta give him a chance to prove himself.He should have no problem proving what he is capable of at Mendocino, according to the coach.Hes going to stand out like a turd in a punch bowl, Ellis said. Hell probably be the best player.Chapman also considered playing at Santa Rosa Junior College or Cuesta College near San Luis Obispo but ultimately chose Mendocino because of its close proximity to his home, as well as several Reds scouts nearby whom he has worked out with since returning to the area.Asked about his goals after this season he was picked by the Reds as a draft-and-follow, meaning the organization has the rights to him until the 2007 draft and can offer him another contract or pass before then Chapman said hes taking things one step at a time.I just want to go out there and have a solid year and see where the cards fall, he said. Im trying not to set too many goals. I just want to stay productive and consistent. Thats all I can do at this point.

Chapman was not fooled by many pitchers during the 2006 season.Batting leadoff for the Wolverines, Chapman hit .693 with 14 home runs, 13 doubles, six triples and 11 walks in 34 games. He finished the season with a 1.397 slugging percentage, knocked in 39 runs, scored 55 times and struck out just seven times.He also broke the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) record with a 34-game hit streak every game from start to finish. The previous record was 25, set by Galenas Joe Hooft in 2000.In 16 league games, Chapman hit .595 and had a slugging percentage of 1.276. He struck out twice and walked six times in 47 at-bats. He also led the team in stolen bases with 19 and runs with 31.


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