Friday, June 22, 2012

An Interview with LHP Kevin Chapman

It appears that Jeff Luhnow should probably be arrested for Felony Theft after pulling off the spring trade with Kansas City that netted the Astros LHP Kevin Chapman and OF D'Andre Toney for Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois. Upon acquisition, Chapman was immediately inserted into the number 14 spot by Jonathan Mayo in his list of Top 20 Astros prospects.

In 28 appearances with Corpus Christi in 2012, he is 4-3 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.691 WHIP (mainly due to a high walk rate earlier in the season). Over the last ten games, he is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA and a 1.241 WHIP.

Corpus Christi Manager Keith Bodie described him as an interesting lefty pitcher with the ability to get out righties as well with his fastball which should help keep him from being pigeonholed as a LOOGY. According to Bodie, Chapman needs to work on refining his command and needs to get in touch with his body and his release point in order to make his delivery repeatable. But he feels that he will ultimately be a great asset out of the bullpen with his fastball, "It's electric. It's down in the zone. It's got velocity and it's got life. He's very interesting."

I talked to Chapman earlier this month when I visited Corpus Christi. Here is what he had to say.

On the trade: "At first it was sort of a shock to me because we were just finishing up spring training, ready to break for the clubs and here I go, I get traded.  I got to meet a whole bunch of new guys but once I settled in it was good and I really like it over here."

On the opportunities playing for Houston vs. Kansas City: "I think both clubs are in similar situations as far as the big league club in rebuilding. I think Kansas City might be a little bit closer to that in having their group of young guys come up, but I think here they've got a good thing going and it's fun to be a part of."

On his pitch repertoire: "I throw a four-seam fastball and a slider and those are my two pitches I use most. I also do have a change up but think I've thrown it twice this year. My fastball, when I'm feeling good, usually sits around 93-94. My slider is usually low 80's. My fastball sort of runs a little bit and my slider's got a little break to the side and a little downward action too."

On how he sees himself being used: "I think there's a lot of different ways I can be used. I can be used as a late inning guy. I can be used as a match-up guy. It just depends what they need me for and depends on how I'm doing.  If I'm doing really good, then obviously the later you'll pitch in a game so it depends on all that."

On what he's accomplished this season: "I think I've come in here and shown them that I do have potential and that I do have the ability that someday I'll pitch in the big leagues. I went through a rough stretch and the shorter you can keep those rough stretches the better and the more consistent you can be, but I feel like I'm past that and I'm back on track and I just need to keep pitching."

On what he needs to improve: "I feel like everybody in the minor leagues needs to improve on consistency. The biggest difference between us and big leaguers is consistency. They do it 99 out of 100 times and we do it 94 out of 100 times. You've just got to figure out how to be more consistent. Usually our stuff that we have and the ability that we have is the same as theirs. They're just more consistent with what they do."

On which Astros pitcher he'd like to steal a pitch from: "I would have to go with Jarred Cosart's fastball."

On which Astros hitter he would least like to face: "I would say Jon Singleton, but since he's a lefty I feel like I could handle him pretty well. I don't really know him that much but I heard [Mike] Hessman in AAA can really hit pretty well so I'd probably want to stay away from him."

On which teammate makes him laugh: "Erick Abreu. He's the man. He's awesome."

On what he'd do if he couldn't play baseball: "I'd be a professional golfer. In high school I played both golf and baseball and after my sophomore year, I had to chose between the two. I chose baseball. [Any regrets?] No. Not that I regret it, but there's always that one thing inside that says what if I were to pursue that, what would have happened? [Was he good?] I was good, but I'm not good any more. I don't play any more really but if I took time, I think I could get back to where I was pretty quick."

On what he thinks about Corpus: "I really like it a lot. It's similar to where I'm from because I'm from Ft. Lauderdale and just having the water and the weather's similar. I just like it. Nice area. [The ballpark?] It's just got a lot going on. The backdrop's cool. There's a lot of stuff to do at the stadium. The fans are pretty good here, too."

Thank you for your time, Kevin. Good luck with finding the key to that consistency. I think you're already well on your way!

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