It wasn’t long ago the Boston Red Sox had one of the better systems in all of baseball. But Manuel Margot is now roaming center field in San Diego and Anderson Espinosa is bouncing back from TJ in the Padres system. Michael Kopech is knocking on the door of Chicago while Yoan Moncada is entrenched as the White Sox second baseman.
The Red Sox have graduated impact players Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers the past two years, and this year was supposed to be Michael Chavis’ time. Instead, the Red Sox top position prospect will be on the Restricted List after testing positive for PED Dehydrochlormethyltesosterone, better known as DHMCT.
Chavis was drafted as a prep shortstop turned third baseman in the first round of 2014 and was a bit underwhelming in his first few years. In 2015 he hit .223 with 16 home runs in the South Atlantic League, then played in just 81 games in 2016 with a .237 and eight home runs. The shine was getting dull on Chavis, but he had a true breakout season in 2017, hitting .282 and 31 home runs and continuing his impressive year with a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League.
His plate discipline got better and he came into his own power-wise, but now there are questions about the legitimacy of his 2017 season. What was the reason behind the breakout season? Did his body and skill set mature into form like many 22-year old’s, or was it the DHMCT that helped lift him over the top?
From a pure scouting point of view, the hit tool was what people long thought it should be, a solid bat that might be a future .260-.275 big league hitter, but the power went from an average tool to plus. He is not the most agile fielder and is blocked by Devers at third, so legitimate plus arm strength will likely have to play elsewhere, most likely first or second base. If the power is real, Chavis looks like a real first base prospect, but if the power is more in the 15 home run range, he will need to improve on his range and become a second baseman to provide real value.
Chavis was originally assigned to AA Portland to start the season but was on the DL with an oblique strain on opening day, and will spend the 80 games on the Restricted List due to suspension. A solid year would have seen Chavis in the big leagues making an impact in the Red Sox hopeful playoff run, but that looks to be out of the question now. Chavis may not have enough time to prove himself after returning from suspension to earn his way onto the big league roster, and even if he does he may not be eligible for the postseason.
I have an email into MiLB to find out if the MLB standard of a PED suspension leading to ineligibility that post season applies to players suspended in the minor leagues while not on the 40-man roster and will update once I get a response.
For now, there is no immediate impact on the Red Sox at the big league level, but their best mid-season bat to promote to help the big league team/best trade chip is now off the table and will come back with noting but questions. If Chavis retains his power, he is a true top 100 type prospect, if the power was PED influenced, we may be looking at more of a utility backup infielder instead.