Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND -- Scott Boras is arguably the most influential person in all of baseball.
 
The legendary agent has negotiated some of the largest contracts in Major League Baseball history, representing names like Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg.
 
Boras also represents a few Oakland A's, including Matt Chapman and Sean Manaea, as well as the franchise's newest prospect, 2019 first-round draft pick Logan Davidson.
 
NBC Sports California caught up with Boras earlier this week:
 
NBC Sports California: A's first-round draft pick Logan Davidson graduated from Clemson in just three years, while playing baseball. How impressed were you by his work ethic?

Scott Boras: Yeah, the discipline, the aptitude -- that's a rare one. He's sitting there in the Cape (Cod League) where a lot of guys are kind of enjoying their summers, and he was taking accounting and doing everything because his plan was, "I'm going to only be here for three years of school. I'm going to put myself in a position to be a first-round draft pick and graduate from college." That's a tall order for most even gifted athletes and Logan achieved it all, which says so much about how he was raised. He's a very impressive person. He really is.
 
The A's were both surprised and excited that Davidson was still on the board for them to draft. They seem to think he has a very high ceiling. What type of potential do you see from him?
I was here five years ago and I had that feeling in my stomach about a particular player named Matt Chapman. He was not taken where I thought he should have been taken in the draft. On the other hand, I was really happy about it because the A's development system does a great job. Every player we've had in it, we've had great success with it. So it's kind of a blessing in disguise where I think the door is wide open for (Davidson). I also think that being a switch hitter and being the defensive player he is, he kind of holds the key to the next level for himself. If he plays well at every level, I think he can get to the big leagues in very short order, like (Chapman) did.
 
Speaking of Matt Chapman, has he exceeded even your expectations with how quickly he's become one of the elite players in baseball?
You know, Matt, his junior year in college hit six home runs. We really saw something develop the last six or seven weeks in his college program where he was working on his swing and he was getting loaded earlier. I think the A's scouting staff -- Eric Kubota and the group -- did a great job of seeing what potential he had. Defensively, there's no better arm in the game and no better glove. He's just a remarkable, unique defensive player.
 
For him to develop the way he has, being a middle of the lineup bat and being a great defender, I can't say that we thought he was going to be as elite as he turned out to be, because he's really one of the top players in the game. But on the other side of it, we certainly thought that, from where he was drafted, he should have been picked much higher.
 
Chapman is under team control through 2023. Have there been any talks regarding an extension and what do you see as the potential for him to stay in Oakland long-term?
Well, you know, these are always ownership decisions. Obviously, Matt's got four years here remaining after this year. The Oakland market -- of course, I was raised here so I know it a little bit better -- but I just think it's going to be a very important part of Major League Baseball going forward. And why is because the city is transforming. The corporate markets, the international market -- I believe that Major League Baseball in Japan and Korea are going to interact with one another because there are 120 million people in Japan and another 70 million in Korea. If you can imagine franchises have 30-35 million people to draw off of, you could put five franchises there. And just think of the markets that you would have in the game.
 
So when you look at the West Coast and you look at the Oakland area, the Bay Area is 9 or 10 million now. It's going to grow to be maybe 13 or 14 million as we go. Oakland is just basically becoming a very, very different place than it was. So for a major league franchise, a new stadium, if you can get the definition of the city to stay in line with the major league franchise, I think you have a synergy that will allow this whole process to be something akin to what we saw happen with the Giants when they moved from Candlestick to their new stadium. They went from 18 or 20 thousand fans to 40 thousand fans a game.
 
We've got owners who I think are creative. They have an intention to do that. It takes a state and city fathers to cooperate to do it right. But once you have that infrastructure built and there's a certainty to it, then players can look at this franchise differently. They can look at it as something that's going to be a major part of a major population base, much akin to when the Giants and Dodgers moved here for those very same reasons. You saw the evolution of other franchises in California -- in San Diego and Anaheim -- and really the A's to take advantage of something that we know is a known in the area.
 
For players to look at this franchise the way it should be looked at, you need those definitive points in place. You need the ownership to do things in advance of all that happening so that the timing of having great players and having a stadium all hits simultaneously. Then players start to (be attracted) to the franchise. You not only keep your major league stars, you start getting the players you draft and develop to stay, and then the entire culture changes.

[RELATED: Chapman remains open to talk long-term deal]
 
Sean Manaea is getting closer to a return following arthroscopic shoulder surgery last September. How impressive was he last season, especially knowing now that he wasn't 100 percent?
When you see left-handers in the major leagues -- like (Hyun-jin) Ryu made a major jump -- what we try to do on a comfort side is get them to not focus on anything other than command of their pitches. As you get the deception and the command -- and we have Dallas Keuchel, or that type of pitcher -- where you get soft contact, you're going to get a lot of groundballs, you're going to be very durable because you don't really need the wear and tear of big (velocity) to get outs.
 
Sean falls into that category. And we're so pleased because I know when a guy has (surgery) and he's throwing in the bullpen, once he gets back to 88, 89 (mph), it looks like we're going to get a really successful result. So we're excited about his evolution and what's going to happen here, and hopefully, he can get back and contribute real soon. He's obviously somebody who can be in the upper part of the rotation.