Sox target power in early rounds of draft

Sox target power in early rounds of draft
June 6, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye said it best when discussing the two right-handed batters the Red Sox drafted in the first and second rounds of the 2014 MLB Draft:

"Obviously, they've got a little ways to go, but I think as we look around the big leagues, teams that have power don't typically give it up. So it's something you're going to have to draft and develop now."

That's where shortstop Michael Chavis and first baseman Sam Travis come in.

Chavis, taken with the Sox first pick in the draft, comes straight out of high school in Georgia, while Travis, taken in the second round, went to Indiana University.

Sawdaye vividly remembers watching Chavis' batting practice back in high school. You'd have to be an out-of-towner to be driving to the road around that time.

"I think Chavis is a guy that we've seen a lot of this year," Sawdaye said. "He takes BP before his games and would put on a show. It's funny because his ballpark kind of sits right up on a main street, a two-way highway kind of. And I think at times Chavis was trying to hit cars going by. He's launched some balls over the left field wall. The interesting thing about Michael is when you ask him to go the other way and you ask him to go to right field, he can kind of do it with ease. I think he just kind of got into this mode where when the scouts were in he wanted to show his power, and also probably wanted to hit some cars."

That's great news for Sox fans, as Boston's Green Monster looks like Chavis' next target.

"Going to be a pretty decent swing for what we like here over the Monster," Sawdaye said. "I think he'll probably put some balls on Landsdowne Street and make all the people sitting in the Monster seats pretty happy in BP, I can tell you that much."

But don't forget Travis, either. As it stands now, the Sox don't have a major first baseman prospect in their system. Travis may be the team's future at that position.

"Travis is pretty similar [to Chavis]," Sawdaye said. "Both have big right-handed power. Travis is an interesting one because when you go watch him in BP from a power perspective, he goes into a BP session and can spread the ball around the field, but then his last round he'll really let it go. He's another guy that's really going to use the Monster well, and then also put the balls out to Landsdowne Street. So they're both big raw power guys, they both have loft, they both have the ability to backspin a baseball. The most interesting thing is they're both really, really strong kids. So we're excited to get them. They're good hitters, and we look forward to getting them out in a Red Sox uniform."

There's no debate that Travis will stay at first base in the minors, but when it comes to Chavis, he could play a number of infield positions. The plan is to keep him at shortstop for now, but don't be surprised if you see the Sox working him out at different positions down the line. After all, if the plan is to put Xander Bogaerts at shortstop (and really, who knows at this point) there will certainly be a long wait for an opportunity there.

"I think we'll send him out a shortstop initially," Sawdaye said. "His ultimate role will probably be dictated on what he does. Third and second are both viable options. We like to give these kids an opportunity to stay in the position that they play in high school most of the time, and then talk to them a little bit about where they feel comfortable. Sometimes it's a little harder to predict if a player can move to second vs. third, what positions they feel comfortable with. I will say this: he's very athletic. His feet and hands work really well in the infield. He's a guy we really truly believe has a chance to stay in the infield. He's got really good actions. If he doesn't play shortstop in the major leagues, we feel really strongly that he's going to stay on the dirt."

And if Chavis is asked to play elsewhere, chances are he'll welcome the change. His personality and attitude is something that also drew the team to him.

"He's an amazing kid," Sawdaye said. "He's a guy that we probably- the first time I met him was last year, we had kind of a preseason fall workout, and you could just tell his passion for the game . . . Just even at a workout, the way he works, the way he interacts with his teammates, his love for baseball. And he is a personable kid.

"He's going to be a guy that has an infectious personality, and hopefully it permeates in the clubhouse. A guy that I think fans in Boston will hopefully get to know and love up here in the big leagues."

All in all, Sawdaye and the Sox staff felt pretty good about their first night at the draft. Not only did they grab a power pitcher in Michael Kopech, but they got two powerful bats as well.

"We're extremely excited," Sawdaye said. "I think you look around the game, power is a commodity and it's definitely something that's hard to find. Obviously those are two guys that we spent a lot of time with and we identified them as premium right-handed bats so to be able to get one in the first round and one in the second round is a little bit of a present."