By: Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
With an extremely depleted farm system, looking in from the outside it would be highly unlikely for the Boston Red Sox to produce an American League Rookie of the Year for a very long time. But 23-year-old infielder Michael Chavis could be the Red Sox best shot at the award.
The last player from Boston to do so is a household name in New England, second-baseman Dustin Pedroia, who won the award in 2007. Pedroia has had an outstanding career in Boston, but has fallen off in recent years due to injuries.
Though Boston has had some incredible players come through the ranks over the years, with the likes of current left fielder Andrew Benintendi, catcher Christian Vazquez, short stop Xander Bogaerts, and the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player right fielder Mookie Betts, they have not had a Rookie of the Year in over 10 years.
Chavis, who the Red Sox drafted in the first round at 26th overall of the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. The Georgia native was taken directly out of high school, though he had committed to Clemson University before signing with the Boston Red Sox.
The infielder has spent his time working his way up through the minor leagues, from the Class A affiliate Greenville Drive all the way to the Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Pawsox.
Chavis is yet to complete a full season with a team, having dealt with an injury nearly every year since he had been drafted, and an 80-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program last April.
Though he is yet to complete a season, he has been touted as one of the best prospects in the Red Sox organization.
Chavis had a standout performance in the Red Sox 2019 spring training, and led the team in home runs with just 24 plate appearances. With the horrific start to the regular season, he recently earned himself a call-up the Red Sox roster.
The right-hander made his debut on April 20 as a pinch hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning, hitting a key double that moved Benintendi to third for Jackie Bradley Jr. to drive in with a sacrifice-fly to give Boston the 6-5 lead and the win.
He made his first start the following day against the Rays, playing second base. In his five at-bats he would walk once and strikeout once. It was a quiet start for the rookie, but he would make noise in Boston the next game when the Red Sox returned home to face the Detroit Tigers. Chavis launched his MLB homerun over the Green Monster and into Lansdowne Street 441-feet from home plate.
His second home run came in his first at-bat in the 7-3 win over the Tigers on April 25, sending another one into the monster for a two-run blast. The infielder has shown off his power early in his career, and should he continue to hit like he has, there is a very high chance the 2014 first round pick could earn himself a Rookie of the Year award.
Chavis’s biggest challenge at winning the award will not be himself, as for many young prospects it is hard to consistently perform in the big leagues at a young age, but another prospect. The Toronto Blue Jays have had a diamond in their farm system for the past several years, in 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The third baseman is the top prospect in the MLB, and has been compared to some of the greats in the league, including his Hall-of-Fame father Vladimir Guerrero Sr. Guerrero’s start to the MLB began this past weekend, and his quality at such a young age could earn himself the award over Chavis.
He currently is batting .222 with two homeruns and four RBIs in the six games he has appeared in for the Red Sox. His performances have boosted the Red Sox offense, and has helped the team turn around their terrible start to the year. Since his debut, the Red Sox have a 3-2 record, and before his debut they were 8-13 on the year.
The infielder certainly has a chance at the award, but is not a guarantee to win it. His offense has been key to the Red Sox current success, so he should have a place on the roster for quite some time. Should he continue to have a hot bat throughout the season, it is possible we could see the first Rookie of the Year award in Boston since 2007.