Truckee grad weighs in on life in baseball |

Truckee grad weighs in on life in baseball

Jason Chapman led his Mendocino College baseball team in five offensive categories his freshman season. With the standard he and his Cincinnati Reds scouts had set, it wasn’t enough.

“My stats were a little off this year,” said Chapman, a 2006 Truckee High grad. “I had a pretty solid year, but not the kind of year I expected to have. So it was kind of a downer.”

Despite posting team highs in runs (34), hits (49), triples (6), stolen bases (32) and slugging percentage (.490), Chapman, 20, was released two weeks ago by the Reds, who selected him in the 44th round ” 1,312th overall ” of the 2006 major league draft.

“They (Reds scouts) said a lot of positive things, but they also said that one more year of school would be good for me,” Chapman said, conceding that he couldn’t help but be disappointed when he learned of his release.

“A little bit,” he said, “but it’s their decision. I’m not going to question them. I just have to go out there and get better. That’s all there is to it.”

Following a stellar senior year as the Wolverines’ shortstop and leadoff hitter, the Reds selected him as a draft-and-follow, meaning they owned the rights to him for one year. Within that time the organization could offer him another contract or part ways.

Reflecting upon the past year, Chapman said he became too wrapped up in the hype of the 2007 draft, which begins today and concludes Friday. He said he won’t make that mistake again.

“Now I think I’m just focused on playing baseball,” he said, adding that he’ll likely play again next year for Mendocino (junior) College, which is in his hometown of Ukiah.

That doesn’t rule him out of today’s draft, however. He just doesn’t hold high expectations. “If it happens it happens,” he said.

It could.

In 41 games as the Eagles’ leadoff hitter and center fielder, Chapman hit .320 with two home runs, eight doubles and 21 RBIs.

Given the green light to swipe bags as he saw fit, Chapman was gunned down only four times while his 32 successful attempts ranked best in the state at the junior college level. It’s that stat in which he takes most pride.

“Stolen bases stands out more than anything,” he said when asked. “I got smarter stealing bases. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

As far as bettering his game, Chapman said he improved most on his speed and ability to handle a good breaking ball. He also enjoyed the leadership role associated with roaming center field.

Now one year wiser since last year’s draft, he knows better than ever that there’s always room to improve.

Glancing back at Chapman’s senior season with the Wolverines, it’s easy to understand why the Reds were interested.

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 Galena’s 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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