Boston Red Sox fans have long been waiting for this news, Michael Chavis is in the big leagues. Chavis ranked at the top of my Red Sox list heading into the year, and my number 115 prospect throughout baseball. The room on the roster in Boston was made as the Red Sox placed Eduardo Nunez on the 10-day IL and DFA’d Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez’ spot is actually taken by Marcus Walden who was called up when Dustin Pedroia was placed on the IL a day ago, Tzu-Wei Lin was also called up with Chavis.
Chavis doesn’t lack for power, although he did serve an 80-game suspension a season ago for performance enhancing drugs after hitting 31 home runs in 126 games the season before. He is off to a hot start this season, hitting four home runs in 12 games, but hitting just below his career average of .257. The hit tool might be the tool scouts vary most on, some think he will end up about average while others feel he will never be better than well below-average. The hit tool, PEDs or not, grades out between above average and plus, so there are few question on that side.
The other big question with Chavis is his defense, as scouts have soured on him at third base in recent years after he entered pro ball as a high school shortstop, most feel his future is at first base given Rafael Devers has him blocked at the big league level. He has seen time at second base, in fact five of his 12 games so far this year have come at that position, and he will likely make his debut at that spot given it was Pedroia and Nunez who landed on the DL. Baseball has seen many natural third basemen get run at second recently and, while he will likely never be better than below average there, Chavis could be the answer for the Red Sox at that position this season.
My overall take on Chavis is that he doesn’t really have a long term spot with the Red Sox unless the hit tool moves closer to average as he would make for a solid first baseman, or if the experiment at second allows him to stick there which would make him a high quality bat at the position. There was a time he was tabbed as a potential future All-Star, which I don’t think is still in the cards for Chavis, but a 50 grade player who sees time at third, second, first, and left while bringing enough power to the lineup to make up for the below average defense is probably where he ends up fitting in.
Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: Chavis has long been a player with truly elite raw power, but it didn’t translate into game power until his breakout 2017 campaign. The concerning part of that timing is the fact he was suspended the first 80 games of 2018 for PED use. If the game power is legitimate and not PED related, he has a chance to be an impact bat, although he doesn’t make enough contact for it to be a consistent bat. He has enough arm to stay at third, but the glove and reactions are less than ideal, leaving many to believe he ends up as a platoon first base-type (not exactly what you want from your top prospect).
Quick Report: Take everything stated in the Chavis profile, remove the PED and pro track record, and you have Triston Casas. Casas has a quick bat that gets to the zone quickly, but opens his hips too often, leaving his bat lagging behind his powerful core. His raw power could rival anyone in Minor League Baseball, and there is some hope he can make the adjustments necessary to become at least an average hitter. Unlike Chavis, there is little hope Casas sees any real time at third as he will become a true first baseman before too long. Casas could easily have been ranked at the top of the list, but he has just five pro plate appearances and is still awaiting his first hit, so Chavis’ proximity to the big leagues was the tie breaker.
Quick Report: Another bat with impressive raw power, Dalbec is different than Chavis and Casas in the aspect that he can not only stick at third but can be an above-average to plus defender there. You can easily give him plus to plus-plus grades in raw power and arm, but the contact rate is as big a minus as any tool you are going to find in a top five organizational prospect. He has struck out in almost 36% of his pro plate appearances while walking in 7.5%. As if those weren’t concerning enough, both numbers went in the wrong direction in his 29 games at AA, 37.1% and 4.8% respectively.
Quick Report: I surprised myself some when I settled on four for Hernandez, as I really expected to be higher especially given the lack of talent in the Red Sox system. He has largely been a starter until reaching AA and the AFL this season, Hernandez has a real ceiling of a rare lefty closer, but a likely role as a lefty that can work high leverage innings. His fastball can get up to 99 with some cross-body action out of his 3/4 slot delivery and has a breaking ball that has flashed plus at times, but has also been a bit slurvy at other times.
Quick Report: I first got the chance to interview Groome back in the summer of 2015, back when he was still going by Jason and transferring back to New Jersey from the IMG Academy. At the time he was in conversations to go number one overall, but he did confess to me at the time he had grown up a Red Sox fan. He wound up slipping to number 12 overall but was very happy to see he landed with his favorite team. He has not pitched great since being drafted and missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery. There have been plenty of concerns about Groome, although few have been on the field. He has a smooth delivery, two above-average offerings and a change some feel could get there. He has not commanded the ball well yet, but the repeatable delivery could lead to average command. If the season on the DL has worked to focus Groome, he could skyrocket up prospect lists.
Quick Report: Flores is not a flashy international signing with a bunch of tools, but he is a player who is solid in every aspect of the game. He has fluid movement at short and plenty of arm, making him as close to a lock to stick at the position as there is. He makes good contact despite the leg kick and loop in the swing and drifting hands. He also has shown the ability to hit for solid power that could develop into 15-20 home runs in time, which is more than enough from a sure handed middle infielder.
Quick Report: The real debate with Houck is whether he is a starter or reliever, but there is little debate if he has the stuff to stick. His cutting slider is a true plus pitch and he has shown both a two seam and four seam fastball (thanks in part to a failed attempt by the Red Sox to change his arm slot). He has a solid curve, but really needs to improve his change and command if he is to stick as a starter. The ceiling as a starter is mid-rotation with a back of the rotation landing spot being more realistic, while he could be a late inning reliever that can dominate against an opponent’s best right-handed hitters.
Quick Report: Mata has long been among the youngest players at every level he has pitched at but had had success despite his youth. He has a true starter’s three-pitch mix, with all being average to better. The concern with Mata is he lacks a repeatable delivery and struggles to find the zone. At his best, he hides the ball well and gets good extension, but at his worst he can’t find the plate and struggles to make it out of the first few innings.
Quick Report: Command really isn’t much of a concern with Shawaryn as he is a genuine strike thrower, but the stuff is somewhat limited. His fastball works 88-91with a cutting slider and solid change. Both his change and fastball run back arm-side thanks to the low 3/4 slot, while his thick lower half could allow him to eat innings. Some feel his stuff will limit him to a long relief/spot starter type, but he has the upside of being a guy that holds down a spot on the back end of a rotation.
Quick Report: Chatham has had an injury riddled pro career thus far but has shown well when healthy. He has the defensive chops to play any of the infield spots and a knack for putting the bat on the ball. The bat path is a bit long, but he has plenty of bat speed to handle any pitcher. He hit for some power in college, although that hasn’t translated in pro ball yet. He doesn’t have a slender frame, but there isn’t a lot of strength in the frame either. It will be really interesting to see how he bounces back from his first healthy off-season as a pro and what kind of strength he adds. While he hasn’t made it past High A thus far, don’t be surprised to see him play his way to Boston as a depth piece before the end of the year.