David Chester was a 33rd-round pick by the Red Sox in 2011 out of the University of Pittsburgh, where the 6-foot-5 first baseman led the Big East in home runs his senior year.
Chester, 24, is now in his first season with Single-A Greenville, where he enters Monday batting .259, with 12 home runs, 66 RBI, a .341 on-base percentage, and .464 slugging percentage in 82 games for the Drive. He leads the South Atlantic League in RBI with 66 and is among the top 10 in home runs, doubles (24), and extra-base hits (36).
Chester was selected to his first All-Star team this season, going 1-for-2 as the starting designated hitter. He also came in second in the home run derby last month.
Here are 10 questions with Chester that may help you get to know the former high school football star and current Sox prospect.
Q: How is your season going?
A: It’s going good. We're starting to play really well as a team, we’re starting to win a lot more games, looking better in all aspects. The swing feels good and just trying to go out there and help the team any way I can.
[Coming into the season], I wanted to cut down on strikeouts a little bit and I feel like I’ve done a better job. And also take more walks. But really I was just trying to be more consistent. And I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at it so far. I still lack sometimes but I feel like I’ve gotten better at it this year.
Q: What is the biggest step you’ve taken this season?
A: It’s being more consistent, not giving at-bats away, and just trying to take a plan into every at-bat. Sometimes you get away with getting lackadaisical or lazy, taking at-bats off. I just really try to focus every at-bat try, to forget the bad ones and the good ones, and just treat every at-bat as a new at-bat.
Q: What are some of the biggest differences at this level?
A: I would say the overall play is a little better. I wouldn’t say by much. I think the talent is there at both levels. I just think guys here are more consistent, they’re able to repeat success. At the lower levels, guys can be really good one day and really bad the next. I just feel like here, guys keep getting better and better at repeating successful stuff. That’s the biggest thing that I see. So, hopefully just keep repeating successful things and keep moving up.
Q: What did it mean to you to be named to the All-Star team?
A: It was a big deal. I was really excited. I was just glad I got the opportunity to represent the Red Sox organization and the Drive. It shows that people recognize what you’re doing and I was ecstatic, not only for myself but also for Mookie [Betts] and [right-hander] J.B. [Wendelken] to make it as well. It was a great feeling that our team is getting seen and people are recognizing what we’re doing.
Q: How was the home run derby?
A: It went all right. I ended up finishing second. I lost to a guy from Hickory. It was actually the first time I’d ever lost a home run derby with a wooden bat. But it was fun. We were just out there having a good time, trying to put on a show for the fans, and I thought we did a good job at it.
I was in [a home run derby] for summer ball in college, actually two, and I won both of them. But that was a long time ago, four years ago now. Time flies.
Q: You mentioned second baseman Mookie Betts, who went to the All-Star game with you. You two have been teammates since 2011, when you were both in the Gulf Coast League. What’s he like as a teammate?
A: I tell you what, he was batting a buck-thirty about a month into the season. And he was down on himself. But I kept telling him and our catcher, Jayson Hernandez, ‘Hey, watch, he’s going to hit .300 this year.’ I just kept saying it. And he’s looking at me like you’re crazy, the guys batting a buck-thirty. Now, if you look at it, I think he’s hitting [.296] right now, with eight home runs. He doesn’t realize how good he is, and that’s what I was trying to get to him. I think he’s starting to realize it and he’s starting to perform even better. He’s a great athlete. He was a state champion bowler in high school. It’s just weird for me. I would never have thought of bowling as a big high school thing. I kind of joke with him sometimes about his high school bowling, and he just laughs at me. He is actually really, really good. I’ve seen him play.
Q: In high school, you had to choose between baseball and football. What was the process like for you and how did you reach your decision?
A: It definitely was [difficult], because you have so many people tell you one thing and so many people tell you another. I just had to do what was best for myself, and it ended up working out for me in the long run.
It was tough for me because I was getting recruited by a lot of major Division 1 football programs my junior year. And I tore my ACL going into my senior year, and that hurt me big time with football. So a lot of schools dropped off and I ended up signing with a small D2 school to play football. But my baseball career started really taking off. And I had a scout for the Atlanta Braves talk to me before the pre-draft workout, and he told me I needed to pursue baseball. So he was a big influence on me, telling me I could have a chance to play at the next level with baseball. So I went to junior college, Seminole State College in Oklahoma for two years. And it was weird, the whole thing with Pitt. Being from Oklahoma you never really think about Pittsburgh, Penn. But they came in and it was a good group of guys there. I really enjoyed what they showed me, and what they were talking to me about. I just felt very comfortable with it, and that’s the reason I went there. It was a great choice.
Q: Is there a player you emulate or model your game after?
A: Growing up in Oklahoma, I would see Albert Pujols a lot. He’s a guy that goes about things the right way, and he’s a great player. I know he’s been struggling the past year or so, but day in and day out, he’s able to repeat what he does. He’s also a great defensive player and a great teammate. He’s probably a guy I try to emulate.
Q: What would you like to accomplish the rest of the season?
A: I’d like to get the average up a little bit, maybe a couple more home runs, but other than that I just want to keep going out every day and having success, and just repeat the success over and over. That’s the toughest part of it, because the season’s so long, it’s such a grind. But I feel like I’m getting better at it, especially since it’s my first full season. I’m really starting to experience the length of a full season. I feel like I’m getting better at it every day.
Q: We’re starting to enter the dog days of the season. How do you deal with that?
A: Really just have fun, because it can be like a job sometimes. So that’s the biggest thing, just make it fun. I feel like we’re doing a really good job of that and I think that’s why we’re having more success now than we were earlier, because it was getting to the point where we were almost dreading going to the park because you have to do the same thing every day. But now we’re having fun. We’re going out there, enjoying ourselves, working hard of course, but having fun at the same time. I really think that helps with the grind of a long season, especially when you have good teammates and that’s what we have here.
We got a lot of funny guys. I’m a little bit of a clown sometimes. I just try to have some fun. We’re all young still, still in our early 20s, some even younger. So we’re just big kids playing a game, getting the privilege of doing that. So I just try to keep it lively. We’ve got a couple other guys that are really funny too, that always make guys laugh.