Heading into the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, Michael Chavis was a 17-year-old shortstop who had garnered a significant amount of attention thanks to his potential with the bat. Many scouts looked at Chavis and saw the ability to possibly be the best bat in the draft if his development was handled correctly. As a high schooler, Chavis could not only square up just about anything a pitcher hurled at him, but also had no issue keeping his hands back on anything off-speed. The shortstop also had strong balance and bat speed, which made it easy to understand why his hit-tool was so coveted. After the risky first-round pick Boston had made for Trey Ball in 2013, it was looking like Chavis was a much safer option. Different scouts following the draft commended the Red Sox for getting the most out of their pick, with the selection of Chavis 26th overall.
Due to his body type and expected growth, Chavis was moved off of shortstop early on in his professional baseball career, and began calling third base his new home. Heading into the draft one of the biggest components of his stock was the fact he could possibly play in the outfield or infield, but Boston wasn’t interested in shifting him to multiple different positions. Defense was expected to be an adjustment for Chavis; he may have had an athletic build, but he had never caught any eyes with his glove work. His arm and athleticism carried him while fielding throughout high school.
Chavis would head down to the Gulf Coast League for 39 games to kick off his professional baseball career. During this span, he posted a solid .269 batting average, with one home run, and a .347 OBP. He would also collect 15 walks, while striking out 38 times; showing off an approach at the plate that included a lot of swing and miss. Not to mention, it took Chavis a little while to get adjusted to a new level of talent. His defensive performance was sporadic during the 39 games, but showed the potential to approve rapidly with the help of more coaching at third base.
As 2015 approached, the Red Sox along with many fans following the minor league system were expecting Chavis to take a major step at Low-A Greenville. After getting a taste of pro ball, it was expected that he would begin to adapt to his new place at third and be able to find consistency at the plate. Sadly, the season was a learning experience for Chavis, as he struggled in almost every part of the game. In 109 games, he hit a weak .223 with 16 home runs, and an ugly .277 OBP. Chavis also committed 19 errors at third, showing off how much of a raw player he still was defensively. He did make major strides in the second half though, and continued to play with an immense amount of passion even when things weren’t going his way. Constant struggles can get any professional athlete down, but the former first round pick did a great job of just focusing on improving and winning.
With the 2016 season finally here, it’s a big year for Chavis. He no longer has any excuses as to why he can’t let his talent take over in pro ball. The now 20-year-old, has spent over a year playing in the minor leagues, and is returning back to Low-A for a second season in a row. It’s time for him to prove why he was worth being chosen in the first round of the 2014 draft. If he doesn’t, it’s soon going to look like he’s heading down a similar path of many failed top draft picks. Luckily enough though, the high school draftee is off to a blazing start.
In the first 12 games of the season, a more mature Michael Chavis is making some serious noise with his bat. He is batting an absurd .388, with a .488 OBP, and already three home runs. It is great to finally see him just have some time to dominate down in the lower minors. After the struggles he endured last season, it can do a lot for a guy just to get off to a hot start. Being surrounded by many of Boston’s big time prospects last year may have caused Chavis to press at the plate and in the field. Having the likes of Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers around can put a lot of pressure on young guys to perform like them. In all reality, that’s a lot for any player in the minor leagues to live up to.
Obviously it will be almost impossible for the third baseman to keep this kind of pace up for any extended period of time. But if Chavis can keep his batting average in the upper .200s, while lowering his strikeout totals, this year will be a huge success. Consistency is the biggest key for Michael in 2016. Finding a way to dominate with his tool set will add just another strong piece to a Boston farm system that is already ranked in the top ten of all of baseball. Pitchers will once again adjust to his new approach, but this time around, it seems like Chavis has enough experience to counter whatever gets thrown his way in Single-A.