Portland Sea Dogs

Michael Chavis not worried about future with Rafael Devers ahead of him: I have stopped trying to play GM

Olivia Healy
July 24, 2017 - 11:45 am

A first-round, 2014 MLB draft pick and current third baseman for the Portland Sea Dogs Michael Chavis has found recent success with his old high school swing and is letting his talent prove its worth after maturing throughout his minor league career.

During the first half of the 2017 season in Salem, Chavis was named the Carolina League All-Star Game MVP and notched 17 home runs while batting .318. Chavis is now batting .264 since being called up to Portland on June 22 and has tallied six home runs and 15 RBIs.

He has climbed the ranks alongside fellow third baseman Rafael Devers, who was most recently promoted to the big leagues on Sunday.

“I love Devers," Chavis said last week, before he was promoted. "He’s an awesome kid. He and I are really close. We’ve been together pretty much since he came to America and since I started pro ball.”

The two played together in the Florida Gulf Coast League, Greenville, Salem and for some time in Portland. While a lot of people would expect there to be rivalry between the two, Chavis said that it is not the case at all.

“I hope the best for him," he said. "God has a plan and so do the Red Sox for the both of us. As long as I play and he plays, we’re both going to find our way to the bigs somehow so I’m not too worried about it.”

Chavis admitted he used to be worried about the different possibilities of getting traded.

“I’ve stopped trying to play GM,” Chavis said. “When I was younger I always tried to think about ‘I should get called up here,’ ‘I wanna get called up by this time,’ ‘I wanna start every game,’ ‘I wanna just be the general manager,’ and I’ve given up on trying to do that. I’ve just stopped thinking about that kind of stuff.”

He sees the tweets that he gets tagged in on Twitter, but said that he's come to the realization he can’t do anything about the rumors and what is said on social media.

While most 18 year olds are adjusting to a independent college lifestyle, Chavis was signing his first professional baseball contract. At times he imagines what it would have been like attending Clemson and playing college baseball, however he remains confident in the decision that he made to go professional.

Chavis had a rocky start to his professional baseball career.

"I think it took me 23 at bats to get my first hit," he said. "And then I get my first hit and then I go 4-for-56."

In high school, he said he never experienced failure and it was difficult to adjust to a new lifestyle and handle the challenges that came with it.

“My first year in Greenville, my first full season, I think I hit .190, or something like that the entire first half,” he said. “I was sitting there at the All-Star break and I was like ‘That sped up on me.'"

Chavis finished the 2015 season in Greenville batting .233 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs.

After being selected as a first-round draft pick, Chavis said he felt the pressure. When he was first signed, one of the only things he couldn't stop thinking about was proving everybody why he was there, why he was a first-rounder and making sure everybody knew his worth. Looking back, Chavis said trying to prove himself rather than letting his talent take over was the immature approach.

However, he admitted baseball is a game of adjustments.

“I kind of got away from my swing that I had in high school," he said. "And something that’s helped me have a lot of success, is getting back to that swing and that kind of approach that I used back in high school. One of the things that made me have success was going back to what I did originally, instead of getting away from what I actually do.”

Those two timeframes in Chavis’ early career, going 23 at bats before his first hit followed by a 4-for-56 batting performance, were difficult to handle. It was made even worse with private family issues occurring back home in Georgia. The distance didn't help the situation, which he admitted affected him during games.

His mother, Dorothy Nugent, and sister, Kelly Chavis, are both permanently represented by tattoos on the inside of both his wrists. On his right wrist, Chavis has an infinity design that says family and faith, which he got with his older sister, who doubles as his best friend and also has a matching one on her foot. On his left wrist, Chavis has his mother’s initials in a cross.

"She's an angel," he said. "I swear to God she has a spot reserved in heaven already."

He admitted that he got the tattoo without telling his mother, but when she visited him one spring she was overjoyed and crying tears of happiness when he revealed his latest ink.

When Chavis was younger, his mother immediately shut down any attitude she saw and preached to him to be respectful and a man and to not show negative emotions. She protected her son since a young age from programs that were known to have attitudes or arrogant players because she wanted to work on keeping him humble. At the time Chavis didn't understand her side, and the same for when he was sent to Sprayberry High School, a private high school, but now looking back at it, he is thankful because it developed him into the person he became today.

Chavis admitted he knew he was good growing up, but didn't know his level of talent until his sophomore year of high school when he committed to Clemson and started getting approached by different colleges who wanted to pay for his education. 

Despite the rough start to his pro career, Chavis started to find success in the 2016 season.

In Greenville he batted .244 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs, followed by a short seven-game appearance in Salem. However, he tore the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in his thumb which forced him to miss about two months and then in his third game back, he said he broke his middle finger.

“I’m waiting to find a picture of me throwing or hitting and people think I’m flicking them off or something like that,” he said.

While Chavis tries not to the get too ritualistic when preparing for games, he tweets "11:11" just about every time 11:11 a.m. or 11:11 p.m. strikes, depending on the day. It started when he first got a Twitter account and happened to look at a clock when it was 11:11 when he sent out the first tweet. The following week whenever he glanced at the time, it was always at 11:11 and from there on out it became his thing. 

“A lot of people get annoyed with it, but I gotta do it now,” he said.

Born on August 11, expected to weigh 11 pounds and with his favorite player being Gary Sheffield who wore No. 11 for the New York Yankees, it was all the right signs for Chavis. However, the difference for him is, instead of making a wish when the time comes around, he says a prayer.

“It’s just kind of a time for me to just take a step back," he said. "Say a prayer, kind of depending on what I’m doing or what’s going on in my life right now just kind of a time to remind me to come back to the moment.”

The process of the minor leagues has been about progression and this year has been about getting to the realization that he has talent and finding out that belongs.

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