The defending World Series championship Red Sox are in dire need of victories and infielders, and they're hoping that the lone MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospect (No. 75) in their organization can help in both areas. They summoned Michael Chavis from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.
Boston's biggest hole is at second base now that Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez and Dustin Pedroia all have landed on the injured list. Though Chavis began playing second base for the first time as a pro this April, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters that the club will give Tzu-Wei Lin (also recalled Friday) most of the at-bats at the position until Chavis gets more acclimated there.
Chavis, 23, was the 26th overall pick in the 2014 Draft and signed for $1,870,500 out of Sprayberry High (Marietta, Ga.). After struggling in his first three pro seasons while trying to do too much at the plate, he settled down his approach and emerged as one of the better power-hitting prospects in the Minors.
He finished third in the Minors in extra-base hits (68) and fifth in homers (31) in 2017, but Chavis tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance during the offseason. He said he had no knowledge of how dehydrochlormethyltestosterone got in his system, though that had no bearing on him serving an 80-game suspension to begin last season. Once he returned, he batted .298/.381/.538 with nine homers in 46 games, mostly in Double-A.
Chavis led the Red Sox with four homers in Spring Training despite getting just 22 at-bats, and he opened 2019 by going 10-for-40 (.250) with four homers in 12 games in Triple-A. He generates his power with a combination of bat speed, strength and loft in his right-handed swing.
Chavis fell into the trap of trying to swinging for the fences early in his pro career and started to find success after improving his pitch recognition and two-strike approach while also doing a better job of using the entire field. His walk and contact rates have improved as he has risen through the Minors.
Though Chavis signed as a shortstop and played there in his pro debut, his below-average speed necessitated a move to third base during instructional league in 2014. He has worked hard to improve his agility and athleticism, becoming an acceptable defender with solid arm strength at the hot corner.
Because the Red Sox have 22-year-old Rafael Devers at third base and another slugger at the position coming up behind him in Bobby Dalbec, they began playing Chavis at first base in 2017. They also had discussed trying him at left field and second base and giving him time at the latter spot this month. He lacks the quickness clubs typically want at second, and it's too early to know whether he can be a viable option there.
It's also unclear how much playing time Chavis will get in Boston and how long his first taste of the Majors will last. If he were to receive 400 at-bats, he'd be capable of posting a .260/.330/.480 line with 20 homers.