Red Sox prospect CJ Chatham

USA Today Sports

Red Sox Farm Report: Pair of shortstops on a roll in Sox system

Nick Friar
April 18, 2019 - 8:57 am

As long as the Red Sox don’t keep up the miserable pace they’ve started the 2019 season with, they should be all set at shortstop through 2026. If the team somehow maintains this downward spiral through the 2022 season, they may run into a problem if Xander Bogaerts decides to opt-out.

This seems unlikely to happen, but then again, no one predicted the reigning World Series champions to start the season 6-13. Either way, Boston may have a contingency plan or two in place if the worst-case scenario comes to fruition.

C.J. Chatham already has seven doubles through his first 10 games with Double-A Portland after hitting 20 between Class-A Greenville and Class-A Advanced Salem in 2018. He’s not a big home run guy (nine in 166 minor league games) but he’s not devoid of power. His progress in the doubles category leaves reason to believe there’s more to come.

Home run numbers aside, if you want someone who can hit for average, Chatham is your guy. He only batted .242 in his first season of pro ball, then suffered a costly hamstring injury in 2017 that limited him to seven games, but he blossomed in 2018. In the 19 games he spent with Greenville, he hit .307. He then spent the majority of the year with Salem (95 games), batting .315 with 14 doubles, three homers and a triple.

Just below Chatham in Salem, Ryan Fitzgerald appears to be playing with all the sliders up on rookie mode. Through 13 games, the 24-year-old shortstop has an OPS of 1.083. He’s hitting .413 with six doubles, two triples and 11 RBI. Last season, he did well with Greenville (.274, nine doubles, eight homers and three triples in 80 games), so there’s reason to believe this stretch isn’t solely built on luck.

Fitzgerald is in his second year of affiliated ball, but his third year of pro ball, having played for the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (quite the mouthful) in 2017. He may be behind Chatham on the organization’s depth chart and Antoni Flores may be the most projectable shortstop at only 18 years old, but Fitzgerald can’t be ignored forever if he continues to do all the right things at the plate.