Amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye breaks down Red Sox draft picks

June 06, 2014 - 8:19 am
Red Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye, in a conference call to discuss his team's three day one picks in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, expressed excitement about the ability to add premium power to the organization -- both in the form of high school infielder Michael Chavis and first baseman Sam Travis as well as in the form of right-handed high school pitcher Michael Kopech. While the Sox' decision to take a pair of high schoolers (Chavis and Kopech, who went in the first round at Nos. 26 and 33, respectively) with the first two picks of their draft -- the Sox hadn't engaged in such a strategy since taking Jon Lester and Scott White back-to-back to open the 2002 draft -- Sawdaye said that the team drafts based on talent rather than profile. "We take the best player on the board. If the two best players are a high school pitcher and a high school middle infielder, then that's who we're going to take," said Sawdaye. "We're not looking to diversify or draft for need. It so happened those were the next two players. Those were players we're very excited about, have a lot of conviction on, scouted for a long time, had a lot of history with. That's kind of how it shook out." Here's how Sawdaye characterized the three picks: MICHAEL CHAVIS, SS, SPRAYBERRY (GA.) HIGH SCHOOL 1st round - No. 26 overall On his power: "Chavis is a guy that we'€™ve seen a lot of us this year. He probably takes a sick [batting practice] before his games and would put on a show. It'€™s funny because his ballpark sits right up on a main street, a two-way highway kind of. I think, at times, Chavis is trying to hit cars going by. He'€™s launching balls over the left-field wall. But 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 kind of just got into this mode where when the scouts were in, he wanted to show his power and also probably wanted to hit some cars. It will be a pretty decent swing for what we like here over the [Green] Monster because I think he'€™ll probably put some balls on Lansdowne Street and make all the people sitting in the Monster Seats happy in BP, I can tell you that much." Chavis played shortstop in high school but his long-term position is to be determined. How Sawdaye described the Sox' positional plans for him: "I think we'll send him out as a shortstop initially, and you know, his ultimate role will probably be dictated on what he does. Third and second are both viable options. I mean, 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, first, third, you know, what positions they feel comfortable at. I will say that he's very athletic. His feet and hands work really well on the infield. He's a guy we really, truly believe has a chance to stay on 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." On Chavis' makeup: "He's an amazing kid. He's a guy that -- 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. We've been scouting him for a couple of years. As everybody knows, we go around to all the showcases. But you can just see his passion for the game, just even his workouts, the way he works, interacts with his teammates, his love for baseball. He is a personable kid. I'll tell you, one of the last things we saw, we met with him about two to three weeks ago, and one of our scouts said, 'Why are you always smiling?' He said, 'You know what? Because I'm always happy.' That's kind of the way he plays. He plays with a smile on his face. He's 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." MICHAEL KOPECH, RHP, MT. PLEASANT (TEX.) HIGH SCHOOL 1st round - No. 33 overall On his delivery and high school workload: "Typical workload for a normal high school pitcher. I think he'€™s an athletic two-way player that swung the bat but also was out there and typically the way you look at these high school pitchers, they go out there, they'€™re usually going about seven innings, not wasting a ton of pitches because he has premium stuff and has struck a lot of guys out. I think he threw somewhere around 60-something innings which isn'€™t atypical for a high school pitcher and as far as the mechanics, he'€™s got, those of you guys that have seen it, he'€™s got an electric arm. We really like the way he commands his fastball. The delivery kind of reminds a little '€“ it'€™s got a little Jered Weaver in it. We'€™ve been scouting this guy for about two years. I think people that saw him in the Under Armour game (a 2013 showcase where he punched out a 2014 first-rounder and two second-rounders in his only inning of work) could see how he commanded his fastball and commanded his secondary pitches. Obviously we'€™re really excited to get him out and watch him develop." SAM TRAVIS, 1B, INDIANA UNIVERSITY 2nd round - No. 67 overall On his power: "Travis is pretty similar [to Chavis]. 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 spray 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 some balls onto Lansdowne Street. 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. We'€™re excited to get them. They'€™re good hitters. We look forward to getting them out in a Red Sox uniform.'€ On whether there are similarities to 2010 first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek, whom the Sox also drafted to play third base out of college in Indiana (Ball State): "Vitek and Travis are much different players. I think Travis has played first base and third base for the three years there in Indiana. Vitek was transitioning from the middle of the field. He was a second baseman in college and we transitioned him to third. Travis is a guy that we actually had a lot of history with. We saw him  as a freshman, we saw Team USA last year, so there's a lot of history. The hit tool is very advanced. Excellent recognition skills. He's a guy that can ambush a first-pitch fastball. If he sees it, he's going to be an aggressive hitter, but also has really good plate discipline. He's an interesting one because, obviously playing in the Big Ten for Indiana, you don't think of the Big Ten as a major baseball conference. But Indiana played a tough schedule, he faced a lot of really good pitching, and he handled it really well. This is a guy who performed for three years. We've seen him since he was a freshman and been a lot of history with him. We really, truly believe that his tool as a power tool was fairly advanced." On adding both Chavis and Travis in the same draft: "We're extremely excited. I think, if you look around the game, power is a commodity. It's definitely something that's hard to find. Obviously, those were two guys that we spent a lot of time with and we identified as premium right-handed power bats. To be able to get one in the first round and one in the second round is a little bit of a present. So we're excited about it. Obviously, they've got a little ways to go, but I think, as we look around the big leagues, guys that have power, teams that have power, don't typically give it up. It's something you're going to have to draft and develop here now."