The Carolina League All-Star Game hosted in Salem, Virginia on Tuesday, June 20 featured seven of MLB.com’s top-100 prospects and showcased one of the most promising young talents in the league, Michael Chavis. Salem’s very own superstar was dubbed MVP on his home turf after his two-run double proved to be the difference in a 2-0 win for the North Division over the South.
Chavis, who is not ranked in the top 100 overall prospects, leads the league in most offensive categories, including home runs (17), RBIs, (55), slugging percentage (.641), and OPS (1.029).
He seems to have figured out his hitting issues that plagued him in Low-A, but the 2014 first rounder was drafted as a shortstop and still has plenty of work defensively at the hot corner. For now, Chavis finds himself behind Rafael Devers, the Red Sox No. 1 prospect, who is still developing in Double-A with the Portland Seadogs.
As the Red Sox near the trade deadline, it would not be surprising to see GM Dave Dombrowski flip Chavis, not Devers, for a short term fix at third base or a back-end starter. Devers is a year away from the bigs, and Chavis may be able to headline a big trade for the Sox come July.
Other than Chavis, the big name prospects on the Southern Division roster drew big time attention. Five top 100-prospects headlined the list, including Cub’s Eloy Jimenez (No. 8), Brewers prospects Corey Ray (No. 23) and Isan Diaz (No. 56), White Sox’s catcher Zach Collins (No. 70) and Houston’s RHP Franklin Perez (No. 95). Victor Robles of Washington (No. 5) and Triston McKenzie of Cleveland (No. 49) round out the other two players in the top-100 list.
Out of those seven names, Robles and Perez have been exceptional. After a short stint on the DL in April and a small mid-season skid, Robles reared back on track by finishing the first half hitting 3.43 with 4 RBIs in his last 10 games. His speed is killer, although he swiped just 13 bags in 54 games. He is the best defensive outfielder in the league, with a wide range and a laser arm, leading Potomac with eight outfield assists. The 20-year-old needs to work out some things at the plate and limit chasing pitches outside the zone, but he is developing well.
Perez is dominant for the Astros, and if it wasn’t for an injury that sidelined him for a month, he may be the most decorated pitching the league. The Venezuelan throws a mid 90s fastball, adds a solid curveball, changeup, and potentially devastating slider to his repertoire. Batters can barely touch him, hitting a mere .126 against him. The guy can flat out locate and has potential movement on his off speed to go with it. He has worked on repeating his delivery more consistently and also delivering his changeup out of the same arm slot as his other pitches. Fully healthy, he will excel in the second half.
Outside of the known prospects, one other stands out: outfielder Austin Hays in the Baltimore Orioles system. Hays has been overshadowed by Robles, Ray, Jimenez and other top outfield prospects but he has roped for Frederick. The centerfielder is a gap to gap guy who started launching the ball, hitting 16 home runs, including 3 in one game against Potomac. He finished a tick shy of the first half batting title with a .328 average and led the league with 86 hits and 155 total bases. The third round pick turns 22 in July but could see his name called to Double-A sooner than that.