Red Sox third base prospect Michael Chavis is due to return from his 80 game suspension next week. What does he need to do to get his career back on track?
As the calendar flips over to July, the top prospect for the Boston Red Sox (at least for now) will be eligible to return from his 80 game suspension. The positive PED test certainly dulled his shine a bit. But with how thin the farm system has been, he still has a chance to keep himself near the top of the system rankings. What, exactly, does he need to do to keep himself there?
The answer might seem obvious, but it’s not. Continuing to hit home runs is the first place most minds will go. After all, it was his 31 home runs in 2017 that put him on the map again. But that’s not actually what he needs to do. Or, more accurately, if he does what he needs to do, the home runs will still be there. Power isn’t the question, even though his PED infraction was for a hardcore, old school, Cold War-era anabolic steroid.
How can you say his power isn’t in question after he got caught with THAT?
Even though Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHMCT) is very effective in building lean muscle and, thus, strength, we have to take some context into account. Chavis hit 17 of his home runs while playing for the Salem Red Sox. And the Salem Red Sox play their home games at Lewis Gale Field, which is a home run suppressing park. That’s why what Bobby Dalbec is doing right now is worth paying attention to. Even if we regress his home run total last year for the PED use, he’s still hitting plenty of them. No, what Michael Chavis needs to do is something far more basic.
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The jump from high-A to AA is probably the toughest in the sport. You go from facing raw pitchers still trying to harness their arsenals to pitchers with more advanced approaches, better command, and higher ceilings. Great pitching prospects move quickly when they are succeeding. So you don’t get to face them as often in the lower minors. When Chavis jumped from Salem to Portland last year, his home run power carried over, but his slash line dropped from .318/.388/.641 to .250/.310/.492.
Well, he had a nearly .100 drop in BABIP. Some of that is luck, some of it is facing better defense, and some of it is likely that his quality of contact dropped while facing better pitchers. Chances are his AA slash line last year is far closer to his true talent level than what we saw in Salem. And that’s fine, because a 114 wRC+ in his first taste of AA suggests that even while trying to figure the level out, he was succeeding. But let’s not mince words here. His ceiling is likely closer to Lucas Duda at the plate than Kris Bryant.
When digging a little deeper into his batted ball profile, the biggest thing that jumps out is his ridiculous 25.6% line drive rate in Salem plummeted to 10.9% in Portland. Now, it was probably always going to come down a little, but nearly 15 points is a massive difference. It suggests that he either hit a home run or made weak contact once promoted. That won’t, or rather, shouldn’t continue. So what Michael Chavis needs to do to get back to get back to top prospect status is fairly simple. He needs to make good contact regularly. If that line drive rate comes up, so will the triple slash, and the door to Pawtucket will be opened for him. That’s it. Barrel the ball up and start moving forward again.
Are you excited to see Chavis back on the field again? What are your expectations for him the rest of the year? Let us know in the comments!