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Pipeline Q&A: Red Sox's C.J. Chatham

March 22, 2018

JUPITER, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Red Sox camp, it was Boston's No. 10 prospect, C.J. Chatham.A product of high school powerhouse American Heritage in Florida, Chatham

JUPITER, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Red Sox camp, it was Boston's No. 10 prospect, C.J. Chatham.
A product of high school powerhouse American Heritage in Florida, Chatham went on to have a strong college career at Florida Atlantic University. In his junior year, he led the Owls to their first-ever Conference USA title. The Red Sox made him the highest drafted player ever from the school when they took him in the second round with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, but he missed most of his first full season with a hamstring injury.
• Red Sox camp report
MLB Pipeline: You had a pretty bad hamstring injury in 2017 that cost you most of the season. Health-wise now, how are you feeling? Are you good to go?
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
Chatham: The hamstring is fully healed. I've been running the bases well. I feel actually 110 percent. There's nothing holding me back with that. It was a tough year I had to go through. I worked on my approach mainly, worked on mental hitting. That's helped me out a lot going into this year.
MLB Pipeline: With an injury like that, there often can be some hesitation to trust it and just let it go. Was there a time when you turned the corner and no longer worried about it?
Chatham: Right when the offseason hit is when it was fully back to what I thought was 100 percent. We didn't know what it was and it kind of kept lingering. Finally, when I took the extended time of not doing anything at all is when it fully got back to 100 percent.
MLB Pipeline: Last year was your first Spring Training and then your year was kind of a non-starter. How excited were you to be down here and really get going and hit the reset button on your pro career?
Chatham: It's really hard to get live pitching in the offseason. You just trust your BP every day. I got here the earliest day possible and that really is going to help me out going into this year. I saw a lot of live pitching early. I was extremely excited to get down here.
MLB Pipeline: Your first live ABs were against Chris Sale. Way to ease into things.
Chatham: Obviously, that's a learning experience, let's just say that. Once you see a regular righty, it's almost like you haven't seen any pitching before that. With that arm angle, and he pretty much does whatever he wants, it was a good experience to see what it looks like against the best.
MLB Pipeline: As part of your rehab, you started doing pilates. Was that something you had always done, or did you come to it for the first time because of the injury?
Chatham: My mom is good friends with Zack Collins' mom, and we're pretty good friends. He had gone to this lady and said it really helped. Once I was there, I loved it. My mobility really got a lot better. I would say every offseason, I'm going to get after it with pilates.
MLB Pipeline: You mentioned Zack. You both went to American Heritage High School, which is a factory for producing good baseball players. Who else did you play in high school with?
Chatham: Brandon Diaz, who's with the Brewers. I played summer ball with Luis Guillorme with the Mets. I played left field on that team. He's a pretty good shortstop. Shaun Anderson (now with the Giants) was on that team. Brian Gonzalez, with the Orioles. I blur summer ball and my high school team together.
MLB Pipeline: Playing with and against that kind of talent all year round, how did that prepare you for the next level?
Chatham: With all of us, it was who was going to what school, and you wanted to be better than your teammate. Everyone wanted to be better and that's what made us a great summer ball team. Playing against Florida competition, and there are so many guys I'm playing against now where I think, "I remember playing against him in high school or summer ball." It's crazy to see the progression they've made, to see where they are now. The competition helped me out a lot going into college.
MLB Pipeline: You're the highest drafted guy to come out of Florida Atlantic to date. Is there a sense of pride from that?
Chatham: Jeff Fiorentino, who was with us in 2003, I think, and he's one of our hitting coaches here, he was the highest prior. That was one of our things, and a goal of mine, that I would go higher than he did. It definitely brings pride, but it also brings motivation to guys like Tyler Frank, the shortstop there now. I want him to be higher than me. You want to push other people while also doing well for yourself.
MLB Pipeline: You've always been a shortstop, except when you had to defer to Luis Guillorme in summer high school ball. Has there been any talk here about trying other positions?
Chatham: I think it's shortstop only right now. From what I've seen being around some other guys, once I develop more and start getting to the higher levels, then I'll start making the adjustment with moving. That's pretty much how we do it here, and maybe I'll start working on some second or third. We have such a great Major League team, you want to be able to help out anywhere.
MLB Pipeline: It's a lesson for young players to learn, I think. It's not a slight if your organization wants you to play other positions. If you're only a shortstop and your big league team has, say, Xander Bogaerts playing shortstop, then you're stuck. But if you can play three spots, then if there's a need, you can get to the big leagues.
Chatham: There are so many scouts in the Minor Leagues now. If they see you can play short and they think you can play short, then all of a sudden they see you in the big leagues as a second baseman, then other teams look at you that way. That can add trade value and all kinds of stuff. Learning every position, to me, is an awesome thing to do.
MLB Pipeline: You pitched in high school as a closer. Do you miss that at all? Do you ever ask a manager to get an inning in a blowout?
Chatham: In college, I tried to get some of that. I talked to the pitching coach. He was pretty serious about wanting me to do all the pitching drills and then go to short. For me, at that time, going into my sophomore year, I thought I'm just going to stick to short and save my arm and not go back and forth.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.