2014 first-round pick Michael Chavis is having a much better second half. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: 2014 first-rounder Michael Chavis turning season around with new plate approach

Ryan Hannable
August 13, 2015 - 9:04 am

It's been an up-and-down first full season in the Red Sox organization for 2014 first-round pick Michael Chavis with Single-A Greenville. On July 4, his average dipped blow .200 for the year to .197, but the past month or so Chavis has turned things around. The third baseman's average is up to .228, but has performed well of late -- batting .282 with two home runs and nine RBIs in nine games in the month of August. This after batting .250 in July. Chavis says the biggest difference is a more relaxed approach at the plate. "I've stopped pressing and trying to do too much and I am just having fun, relaxing and letting my talent take over instead of trying to do so much at the plate and prove to everybody why I'm here," Chavis said on the WEEI Farm Report Podcast this week. "I'm having fun and playing the game that I love." Another change for Chavis has been a shift up in the order. He's now batting second, which is something he's never done, but something he's enjoyed doing and has helped him perform better. "I've never hit in the No. 2 hole before but now that I have gotten used to it, I like it," he said. "I like being up in the first inning and having something to expect on defense knowing I will be one of the first batters up and it's just fun. I like being higher up in the lineup. It's more interesting, more at-bats. I usually get four or five at-bats a game and I like that." Chavis was taken No. 26 overall by the Red Sox in last year's draft out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. He just turned 20 years old this week and did admit there was some pressure with being such a high pick and playing with a number of talented players in Greenville. After maybe putting too much pressure on himself earlier in the season, he's more relaxed now and it's paying off. "It's a lot easier said than done. Earlier in the year I was trying to do that a lot and it's not something that just clicks," Chavis said. "I started making some better at-bats towards the end of the first half and then the second half they moved me up to the No. 2 hole and it just clicked one day. I figured it out and I am starting to feel a lot better at the plate." The third baseman noted the biggest thing he's taken away from his first full professional season is the talent he sees on a day-to-day basis, nothing like what he saw during high school and summer league games. "Just the talent everywhere," Chavis said. "You don't go a day without seeing a kid you're pretty impressed with -- whether it's on your team or someone you're playing against. It's very interesting seeing all the talented players and even seeing players who come down and rehab." For the season going into play Thursday, Chavis has a slash line of .228/.281/.392 with 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, but 122 strikeouts to just 23 walks. When asked what was his most memorable homer is, he said it was his 11th -- a grand slam last week, which was his first professional grand slam and also goes along with his love for 11:11. With the season winding down, Chavis isn't putting anymore emphasis on the last month than he did the first month. "Personally, I just want to get better every single day," he said. "That's what we're doing throughout the entire year and I don't think just because it's the last month anything should change. I'm still trying to get better and become the best player I can possibly be." YOAN MONCADA HEATING UP Like Chavis, Yoan Moncada is performing much better of late. The highly-touted 19-year-old Cuban, who the Red Sox signed in March, joined Greenville in mid-May and was hitting .200 on June 20, but since July 1 he's batting .336 and in seven games in August, he's batting .400. It seemed adjusting to both living and playing baseball in America was a major reason for his early struggles, but now he's performing like many expected when the Red Sox signed him in the spring. "It's very cool," Chavis said of Moncada. "He's a good guy and cool to see how he's come to know the culture and seeing him play a lot better now. He's a good dude and likes to play the game. He plays hard. We like having him in the clubhouse. It's very cool having him hit in front of you because I get a first-hand experience getting to see him hit and then being on base when I'm hitting so we get to work together with a lot of stuff like that." Chavis said the language barrier between Moncada and the rest of his English-speaking teammates hasn't been an issue, as they are able to communicate. "We can communicate and get by," he said. "I am not going to have an extensive conversation, but I know the basics and it is enough to get a conversation going. It's not too big of a problem and they are also taking English classes so if you can't get something by they will say something in English and I will say something in Spanish and we'll meet in the midway." Moncada missed Tuesday and Wednesday's games and sources say it's because of a minor hand injury. Manager Darren Fenster said after the game Tuesday Moncada was a little "banged up." It isn't expected to be a long-term absence. For more, check out the latest Farm Report Podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable.