The goal each year in the draft is to find as many quality major league talents as possible. From 2007 to 2014, the Royals signed 53 players that eventually made their way to the major leagues, with the eight from the 2012 class being the most from one draft year. Dayton Moore and staff want to find major league talent, but they have a secondary goal to continue to grow the game with those players they draft. They have done just that with former players that have become coaches, trainers, and in 2012 draftee Ethan Chapman’s case, an agent.
Chapman was a 30th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Cal-State Bernadino. He was a top-of-the-order speedster who could draw a walk and play centerfield. He hit .313/.383/.420 his first season in Idaho Falls, and reached as high as Double-A with the Royals before they let him go. He reached Triple-A with the Phillies but by age 25 he was out of affiliated baseball, playing in independent leagues.
I caught up with the former Royals minor leaguer-turned agent.
What led you to want to become an agent?
I didn’t. There are many shadowy figures, and people talk badly about agents a lot, and I didn’t want people looking at me with that perception. I wasn’t sure I could keep my morals and ethics on that side of the line. The more I thought about it, helping kids through the draft process and helping players in their careers was something I wanted to do. After speaking with a former teammate and another former player in the game, they pushed me to meet with Full Circle. The agency and the people involved with them lined up well with the person I am and the type of agent I want to be.
You went into it with those perceived notions and not wanting to sacrifice your ethics. Was that due to something that you saw as a player?
It was so business-like and so catered to the first-rounder. That obviously wasn’t a category I was in, so I wanted to make sure I treat all players with respect. There were a lot of shadowy dealings with agents that I saw and players leaving agents over emotions. I want it to be different for players working with me and Full Circle.
As an agent, you get paid on those first-round bonuses. How do you ride the line of treatment between the minor league grinder and the bonus guy?
It’s tough to balance, but to me, it’s all about work ethic. I don’t want to service a guy just because he got a bonus. I want to help out the guys that are putting in the work. Sometimes the guys in this game that do the best are the guys that only had one shot. You’ll get that college junior with a small bonus who knows he has to put in the work to achieve that dream. I want that guy who willing to put in the work to get the most out of his ability.
With the technology offered in today’s game, is it as hard to get players to work when you can track results and see each day’s work?
The clubs have guys out to spring training facilities more, or they have them go to offsite facilities to work. It’s a lot more hands-on than when I played. It makes it feel like to players that sometimes they have to do it instead of wanting to do it. We’re here to make sure players don’t forget that it’s not just an assignment. They need to get something out of the work. We try to remind them that it’s their career and take some ownership over it.
As a player, you grinded it out for years in the minors and then went onto play indy ball and Mexican League. What were the differences you had between the affiliated ball and those leagues?
Those two seasons in independent ball and Mexico allowed me to get the passion back for the game. Sometimes in affiliated ball, you were pressing so much for every at-bat or every chance so that you could get more playing time or a bump to the next level. There was some purity in indy ball and Mexico because those players want to be there, and they enjoyed playing there, playing the game they loved and getting paid a little bit to do it. I knew I would be in center field and batting leadoff every day, so I didn’t need to pressure myself. In Mexico, on opening day, we opened up in Tijuana in front of 15,000 people. There was music playing up until the pitcher let go of the ball. The fans loved you if you played well or got mad at you if you didn’t, it was their big leagues.
Dayton Moore had a lot of good publicity this last year with his talks about the game and taking care of players the way the organization did last year. After playing for them and dealing with other teams, is there a difference?
You know I’m probably biased, but the way Dayton does things, he’s just a good person. It’s still business, and he’s going to do things right for his team. I don’t think I’ve gotten to know other team’s top management or scouts as personally as him and the staff, but there is something special in what they do and how they care for their players. They do good a job, and they’re a special organization to me.
As an agent now, what would you go back and tell Ethan Chapman the player if you could?
Don’t try to make everybody happy. It was my goal to get drafted and ultimately to try to make it to the big leagues. I would do anything that anybody with some authority would tell me sometimes to my detriment and downfall because I was so open-minded. Sometimes I should have stuck to my guns and played my game. There are so many different opinions in this game. Only one team can draft you, and there are hundreds of scouts and coaches. You can’t make everyone happy and to try is a fool’s errand.
Many thanks to Ethan Chapman for his time. You can check out his firm at Full Circle Sport Management