For the second straight edition of this series, we had a blowout to determine the winner of the top prospect voting. After Jason Groome ran away with the vote for the top spot in our community prospect rankings, Michael Chavis was even more of a runaway victor in the latest vote. Taking a whopping 91 percent of the votes, the third baseman (for now) waltzed into the number two spot on the 2018 OTM community prospect list.
Like Groome, Chavis is a former first round pick, though he was taken a few years earlier. The Red Sox selected him with the 26th overall pick in the summer of 2014 out of Sprayberry High School in Georgia. He’d play sparingly in the GCL that same year and was....fine. It was nothing special, but enough of a base to still remain excited about the first round pick. He headed to Greenville to begin his first full season in 2015, and was clearly overmatched. The raw power that was advertised when he was drafted flashed here and there, but the contact issues overpowered anything else about his game. He finished the year with a .682 OPS. He wound up repeating the level the next year and improved the contact issues, though the power didn’t come. He suffered a thumb injury that caused him to miss a couple months in the middle of the year, but he played well enough to get a cup of coffee in Salem to end the 2016 season.
That brought us into the 2017 season, which was an extremely important one for Chavis in his professional career. In his write-up in this series last year (where he was ranked as the ninth best prospect in the system), I mentioned that it was time for him to take his game to the next level. As a 21-year-old in High-A, he certainly wasn’t progressing at a hugely alarming rate, but he was also at an age where he couldn’t lean on his youth as an excuse anymore. Well, he took his game to the next level and then some. Chavis was straight-up bananas to start the year in Salem and hit .318/.388/.641 for a 187 wRC+ in High-A over 250 plate appearances. He’d end up getting a mid-season promotion to Portland, and while he wasn’t quite as otherworldly he was still quite good with plenty of power and ended up with a 114 wRC+ in 274 plate appearances at the level. Even those with the most confidence in Chavis had to be surprised by just how much success he enjoyed in 2017.
No matter who you are reading, the scouting report on Chavis is relatively clear. The standout tool, of course, is the power. Despite standing at just 5’10”, the infielder generates a ton of bat speed and makes tremendous contact, allowing him to launch the ball far beyond what others of his size can. His plate discipline is likely never going to be a massive strength, but he’s taken legitimate steps forward in recent years. He’s now more willing to sit back on a pitch and drive it the other way, which takes away opponents’ ability to pepper him with soft stuff on the outer half. On the other side of the ball, there are real questions as to where Chavis will settle defensively. He has a solid arm that can work at third base and he’s improved some with the glove, but most agree he’s not likely to stick at the hot corner. The move most expect would be to head across the diamond as a first baseman, though his smaller stature lends some questions to that. It’s a legitimate question and is likely the most important thing to figure out here in 2018, but if his bat plays up to its full potential they’ll find somewhere to stick him on the diamond.
Speaking of 2018, Chavis will be looking to make good on last season’s breakout and potentially make his major-league debut in the upcoming year. The infielder will probably begin the season back in Portland as he looks to shore up some of his weaknesses and get more reps against refined pitching prospects. A midseason promotion to Pawtucket would not be surprising at all, and if things break correctly -- for both Chavis and on the major-league roster — the number two prospect in the system could come up to the majors later in the year as a bat off the bench for the stretch run.
So, we’re now one-tenth of the way through this twenty-man list. Here’s what we have so far:
- Jason Groome
- Michael Chavis
With the current farm system, this is where things start to get very interesting and opinions will begin to become more and more split. So, head down to the comments and make your vote heard by clicking the “rec” button on the comment that corresponds with your pick. For more information on this voting system and how it works, scroll down to the bottom of this post.