Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis began his first full season with a bang on Opening Day. With a home run and walk-off double on Thursday night, he launched the Greenville Drive to a 3-2 win over the Augusta GreenJackets.
He began the night with a double play and ground out in his prior to at-bats, but hit a solo shot over the centerfield wall with the Drive down, 2-1, in the seventh inning.
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Chavis would later top the monstrous home run by driving in Nick Longhi for the winning run with a double in the ninth.
“He had two huge at-bats for us,” Greenville Manager Darren Fenster said to milb.com. “He had some aggressive swings later in the game and got rewarded for it.”
Chavis’s has shown a fondness for debuts this year, as he reached base in all four appearances in his Minor League Spring Training debut, falling a single short of the cycle.
Chavis was drafted 26th overall in the 2014 Draft and played in the Gulf Coast League last season. With quick hands, a level swing, and gap power, Chavis has the type of potential to quickly become a top 25 prospect in all of baseball.
Currently ranked the 11th best prospect in the Red Sox’s system by MLB.com, Chavis hits for contact rather than power, but the ball jumps off the bat to all areas of the field. When he pulls the ball he has well above average power for his size, but he’ll likely be aiming for 30+ doubles rather than 30+ home runs in the majors.
Defensively, he has the above average arm strength and quick feet that project well at third base. His footwork must be improve, but with a strong lower half and a physically mature 5-foot-10 inch frame, that should be a fixable issue.
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In his time in the Gulf Coast League, Chavis hit .269 with a .347 on-base percentage in 39 games with only one home run. Yet his 12 doubles and hot-hitting August where he batted .372 gave fans a peek at what is to come. If he can lower his strikeout rate (25% in 2014) and keep his walk rate in double digits (10% in 2014), he should have a strong season for Greenville.
The most important thing for Red Sox fans may be his approach on the field. Chavis is a “give it everything you have” type of player and never takes a play off. Unsurprisingly, Chavis sees Dustin Pedroia as an example of the kind of player he’d like to become on the next level.
"“How [Pedroia] plays and goes about the game is incredible,” Chavis said to SBNation. “That’s what I think some people are missing nowadays in baseball, is that they kind of play lackadaisical and they’re kind of relaxed. I like how he plays 100 percent and plays as hard as he can every single play of the game.”"
That style of play should quickly endear him to Red Sox fans as they become more familiar with him.
As he continues to develop he’ll certainly have some competition in front of him at third base. Fellow third base prospects, Garin Cecchini and Rafael Devers are ahead of him in both the developmental phase and the pecking order in the Red Sox system.
Yet even with the possibility of a position change, Chavis is just looking forward to the day he can play in Fenway Park saying during a park visit “It’s pretty fun hitting at Fenway,” Chavis said to the New England Sports Network, smiling. “Hitting it over the Green Monster is pretty fun. It’s pretty exciting.” It will be a few years before Chavis gets the chance to hit it over the monster as a major leaguer, but the Boston faithful will soon be smiling as big as Chavis does when he dreams of his Major League debut.