by Michael Smith
Coming out of Grain Valley High School in 2020, Max Chapman had a lot of promise.
He was ranked the third best left-handed pitcher in Missouri and the 42nd best prospect in the state according to perfectgame.org. At the time, the lefty was committed to Wichita State, one of the top NCAA Division I programs in the Midwest.
However, when Chapman didn’t feel like he was going to get enough playing time with the Shockers, he elected to play for Johnson County Community College (JCCC), and it turned out to be a great decision for the soon-to-be college sophomore.
During his freshman season, he made 13 appearances and started seven games for the Cavaliers and finished with a 4-2 record, a save, a 2.73 earned-run average and a team-high 72 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings pitched, helping Johnson County break the school record for wins in a season with 43.
“It’s a program I have been really familiar with. My dad went there,” Chapman said. “When I made the decision to transfer to Johnson County from Wichita State, I was comfortable with the decision.”
His season was good enough to earn First-Team All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference East Division and Second-Team All-Region VI honors.
In the Ban Johnson summer league, with the Building Champions team, Chapman has been just as good. Before Monday’s game against the Milgram Mustangs, had a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings.
“He was one of the league leaders in several categories,” Building Champions manager Jim Hernandez said. “He’s been pitching extremely well for us.
“He has a bunch of different pitches that he can throw for strikes and he keeps the ball down extremely well. That makes him very effective. He is one of the main guys we go to for pitching.”
Playing in Ban Johnson has allowed Chapman to catch up with former teammates as six others who graduated from Grain Valley play in the league.
“It’s great to see old faces that I have not seen in awhile,” Chapman said. “It gets a little more competitive out there when you face one of your friends. You compete for bragging rights. It was fun playing against Mason (Rogers) today.”
Currently. Chapman primarily uses a fastball-curveball combination but he’s been working on adding a changeup to his repertoire.
“The curveball is my best pitch,” Chapman said. “I get a lot of strikeouts on that. The fastball was good this season also. Hopefully next year I can have a full three-pitch arsenal.
“I am working on stride length and trying to stay level to be more athletic on the mound.”
Chapman has one more year left to play for the Cavaliers before possibly transferring and extending his playing career. The sophomore said he hopes to land with a Division I team again and get a similar amount of playing time that he received with Johnson County.
“Being at the Division I level before, I obviously want to get back there,” Chapman said. “But I really want to find some place that’s going to get me the best opportunity.”