Friday, June 6, 2014
Scouting reports: Chavis, Kopech, Travis
By Mike Andrews | SoxProspects.com
As far as SoxProspects.com is concerned, the Red Sox cleaned up on Day 1 of the MLB draft, given the players available at the club's respective draft slots. The team drafted three well-regarded prospects on Thursday evening in prep infielder Michael Chavis, high school pitcher Michael Kopech and college first baseman Sam Travis.
With the 26th pick of the first round, Boston selected Chavis out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. Chavis was one of the top players available when the Red Sox came on the clock and is generally considered among the top high school hitters in the 2014 draft class.
He has hit for average throughout his high school career, and most scouts believe he will continue to make good contact against advanced pitching, having excelled in national tournaments against other top prospects. Chavis also shows above-average power potential that is largely generated from his quick wrists and smooth mechanics rather than frame strength.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, the 18-year-old infielder profiles best at third base, but he's athletic and versatile enough to play second base or corner outfield. He has a solid arm, good footwork and fluid actions on defense. While he has played shortstop as a prep, he lacks the quickness to stick there over the long term but could play the position in a pinch as a professional.
Chavis also has good makeup, as he's generally known as a smart player who always gives maximum effort. He cited Dustin Pedroia as his favorite player on the Red Sox after being drafted, indicating that he emulates the second baseman's game for his drive and hustle.
For the 2014 season, the right-handed hitter batted .580/.663/1.197 with nine doubles and 13 home runs in 28 games. Chavis is committed to Clemson, but signability is not considered a significant concern. The assigned pick value for the No. 26 pick is estimated to be a shade less than $1.9 million. A slot signing would be beneficial for both the player and the club.
Overall, he's an advanced bat for a high school player but is still likely four seasons away from getting a look at the major leagues. This far out, he projects as a potential everyday regular with an All-Star ceiling. High school players almost always have bust potential by definition; while that concern is still there, it's less of a concern with Chavis than with most prep players.
If past is precedent, he'll most likely be assigned to the rookie level Gulf Coast League out of the gate, with a decent shot of seeing time with Class A Lowell starting in mid-August. The GCL Red Sox season begins on June 20.
Later in the first round, Boston picked right-handed pitcher Kopech at No. 33 overall -- the pick the Red Sox received for losing Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency. Kopech just turned 18 on April 30, so he's young for the draft class. Over his senior season, he went 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA and a .115 batting average against, striking out 129 batters and walking 18 in 64 innings.
Kopech has a live arm with a heavy fastball that already sits in the low- to mid-90s, topping out at 98 mph at a few points. His 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame is projectable, and he might be capable of adding even more velocity. His mechanics are maximum effort and his arm can fly open, so his delivery might need some cleaning up. If not, control and command are possible future issues. It wouldn't be surprising to see a dip in velocity early in his professional career as the front office has him focus on throwing strikes with a repeatable delivery.
He complements his fastball with two breaking pitches: an above-average slider and a workable but loopy curveball. Scouts are split on which of the two is better; he's likely to focus on just one of his breaking pitches as he starts his professional career. He also has a changeup that shows some deception and promise, but it's a work in progress at this stage.
Like Chavis, Kopech was generally considered a late-first round talent. He's committed to the University of Arizona but is also not expected to be a significant signability concern. The slot value for the No. 33 overall pick is about $1.65 million.
Overall, he has top-of-the-rotation potential if he can learn to repeat his delivery and harness his secondary stuff. He could spend all of 2014 in the Gulf Coast League. Given that he already threw 64 innings during his high school season, he might not get a lot of professional innings this year.
Among the top players who the Red Sox passed on in the first round were all high schoolers: outfielder Monte Harrison, right-handers Sean Reid-Foley and Spencer Adams and shortstop Jacob Gatewood. All four were selected later on Day 1.
In the second round, with the No. 67 overall pick, the Red Sox selected Travis out of Indiana University. He was generally considered an early to mid-second round talent, and Boston scooped him up toward the end of the round.
The 20-year-old college junior (he'll turn 21 in August) has an above-average hit tool, showing a solid ability to make contact and hit the ball to all fields in three years with the Hoosiers. He also has very good present power, hitting 31 home runs in 183 games over his college career. Travis has a disciplined approach for a power hitter, managing to limit swings and misses. At 6-foot, 210 pounds, he's slow on the basepaths but about what you'd expect from a first baseman.
On defense, Travis spent the early parts of his college career at third base but was moved off position to first base, at which he'll likely play as a professional. He has the potential to be an adequate defender -- he can scoop the ball well and has decent lateral movement -- but he's on the shorter side for the position. He might also have a chance to play left field, but his fringe arm strength might keep him out of the outfield and limit him to first base.
In 2014, Travis hit .347/.415/.576 with 16 doubles and 12 home runs in 59 games for Indiana. He's a semifinalist for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award, handed out to the nation's top baseball player. Indiana was just eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a loss to Stanford on June 2, so Travis is now free to sign a pro contract.
Overall, Travis projects as a second-division starter or an impactful bench bat at this stage, but he has the ceiling of an average first-division starter, which is a solid get in the late-second round.
Slot for the No. 67 overall pick is roughly $830,000, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Travis sign right away at, or slightly below, that number. Expect him to be with the Lowell Spinners when the club's season starts on June 13, and don't be surprised if he's with Class A Greenville before the end of the season.
Two of the best prospects whom the Red Sox passed on at No. 67 were California prep outfielder Marcus Wilson and San Diego State right-hander Michael Cederoth.