Tennessee baseball commit Reese Chapman is one of 39 high school juniors playing in this weekend’s High School All American game that kicks off MLB’s All Star Week at Coors Field.
Chapman earned the honor with strong play at the high school and travel level. This season at Grandview High School, Chapman hit .350 with 12 extra base hits and 23 RBIs in just 17 games due to a COVID-19 shortened season.
Still, hearing the news that he was selected for such a prestigious event was surreal for Chapman.
“I was just scrolling through my emails and I see an email from Chuck Fox,” Chapman said. “I look on it and click on it and it was saying something about playing in the All American game and I email him back and I knew I was good and playing with these other top kids in the nation but I didn’t think I’d be able to participate in an event like this and because I overthink things in my head I emails him back and was like ‘so what do I have to do to get into this event?’ and he emails me back and is like ‘dude, nothing. You’re in.’ I was super shocked but it was super cool and put a smile on my face and made my day. Thinking that I’m one of those top guys too is kind of weird for myself.”
Chapman, a Parker, Colorado native, is one of two players from the Centennial State in the event. As a Rockies fan, playing at Coors Field in front of family and friends is the most rewarding part of the honor.
“It’s going to be awesome because Coors Field is an amazing field, first off,” Chapman said. “Just playing back home where my family and friends can come watch, that probably means the most. Everything my parents have put into this for me and to be able to participate in a game like this and for them to be able to come and watch, it just means a lot to me.”
Chapman committed to Tennessee as a sophomore in high school over Arkansas and TCU. Chapman’s commitment came before Tennessee’s baseball program broke back on the scene as a national contender.
So what about Tennessee and Tony Vitello convinced him Knoxville was the place for him?
“Tennessee was the very first school I talked to,” Chapman said. “I honestly was following along with their season that year (2019) and Tennessee was one of my top schools to go to and even to get the call from my (high school) coach that Vitello even wanted to talk to me was surreal to me. Going to the camp to see the campus towards the end of my freshman year summer I saw the campus. The campus was beautiful but the coaching staff was awesome. Just hearing Vitello and Josh Elander talk and you looked at their recruiting class and they were starting to get other top players to commit there. That season I was following along they had their first 40 win season in, I don’t know how many years. That just caught my eye and the way he talked to me I just knew Vitello was one of those coaches that was going to get it done.”
Tennessee and Vitello proved Chapman’s belief correct in 2021 as the Vols won 50 games and returned to the College World Series for the first time since 2005.
Seeing Tennessee’s success has Chapman chomping at the bit to get to Knoxville in 2022 and to have a chance to leave his mark on the Vols’ program.
“It makes me more excited wanting to go there,” Chapman said of the Vols’ 2021 season. “Just seeing that they were that good and going to Omaha— that’s been one of my dreams since I was a little kid to go to Omaha playing college baseball. So doing that and showing that they had a decently young roster it looks like they’re going to go far again in the following years.”
The left handed hitting outfielder earned early interest from major college programs with his hitting ability, but Chapman has worked consistently to add new tools to his game.
“Everyone I talked to recruited me because of my hitting,” Chapman said. “I’m a hitter and I’ve always been told speed, speed, everything about speed. So I have a speed trainer now and so my game has really improved on the bases and honestly it’s made the game a lot more fun stealing a bunch of bases. I’ve gotten a lot faster.”
Chapman’s speed training showed up on the field this season where he stole 16 bases. Next up in the outfielder’s development is improving his arm to make himself more of a defensive threat.
You can watch Chapman and the rest of the high school All Americans Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on MLB.com.
You can check out the full MLB All Star High School All American game roster here.