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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Can C.J. Chatham make a leap?

The former second round pick was finally healthy in 2018, and now he looks to make a leap in the upper minors in 2019

C.J. Chatham
Kelly O’Connor;

The battle for the first spot in the second half of our community top twenty prospect ranking was relatively close for most of the voting period, with an older infield prospect edging out a younger more inexperienced outfield prospect. Then, towards the end, the infielder started to pull away and he was able to take the eleventh spot on our rankings. I speak, of course, of C.J. Chatham, who took 17 of 34 votes (50 percent) to take this spot.

Chatham represents the second consecutive 2016 draftee to make this top twenty list and the fourth prospect from that class to make the list thus far. The shortstop prospect was taken with Boston’s second round pick out of Florida Atlantic University, allowing them to save a bit of money after taking Jay Groome with their first selection. Chatham wasn’t nothing, though. He was seen nationally as a guy who can stick at shortstop with a solid hit tool, though there was debate on how much that hit tool would be able to carry him. The Red Sox were clearly high enough on him to grab him in the second round, though, saving a little over $100,000 in bonus pool money in the process.

Unfortunately, it took a while to really see Chatham in action after being drafted. He did get in a decent amount of game action in that first summer immediately after being drafted, picking up 146 plate appearances in short-season ball, most of that coming in Lowell. He was fine in that time, though oftentimes you want to see a college hitter be more than fine against New York Penn-League competition that includes a pitchers pitching in the States for the first time, pitchers coming off long college seasons and draftees who weren’t good enough to make it to full season ball in their first full season. Chatham hit .242/.299/.417 in that time, relying on power for a line that contradicted the scouting reports heading into the draft.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The following year was the chance for the shortstop prospect to start making his mark in the organization, but this was when he never got a chance to get going. Chatham played in only seven games over the entire 2017 season due to a severe hamstring injury. This was obviously a tough break, and it made the 2018 season a huge one. He was entering his age-23 season and yet to play a full season of professional ball. It was tough to know what to expect heading into the season, but he was solid. The shortstop showed off the hit tool that carried his draft stock, but the power from his professional debut. Part of that, however, was hitting in Salem, which can be tough on power. Between Greenville and Salem, with 83 percent of the games coming in High-A, Chatham hit .314/.350/.389 in 472 plate appearances. It wasn’t a breakout performance, but it was enough to keep him on the radar.

Heading into his age-24 season, the scouting reports remain largely the same as they did in the summer of 2016. Despite standing at 6’4”, much taller than your typical shortstop, Chatham is still smooth out there and is projected to stick at that position long-term. While shortstop is much deeper and more talented than it was even a few years ago, there is still less pressure on the bat if you can stick at short than if you have to move to another position. That’s good news for Chatham, though he showed that he does have an average hit tool, albeit one that’s dragged down a bit by not drawing a ton of walks. The power is going to be what to watch for in 2019 as he moves to more friendly parks, but he’s probably not going to get too many more than ten homers per year at his peak if everything works out. All in all, it’s a solid profile though not one you keep a spot open for.

Chatham is all but certain to head to Portland this season, forming an intriguing left side of the infield with fellow 2016 draftee Bobby Dalbec. This is a big year for Chatham, who is at the age where the Red Sox will have no problems pushing him if he plays well enough. Boston isn’t exactly starving for infield depth, but they wouldn’t mind having more coming up and being ready to contribute in 2020 or perhaps even late 2019, though that may be pushing it. One step at a time for Chatham.

Here is our full list:

  1. Michael Chavis
  2. Darwinzon Hernandez
  3. Triston Casas
  4. Bobby Dalbec
  5. Jay Groome
  6. Tanner Houck
  7. Durbin Feltman
  8. Bryan Mata
  9. Antoni Flores
  10. Mike Shawaryn
  11. C.J. Chatham

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number eleven. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...