Photo: Perfect Game

Sprayberry star has promising future

Matt Rodriguez

Published: Monday, April 28, 2014

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - The high school baseball season is coming to an end, which means the end of competitive baseball for many kids around the country, but it also means new doors are to be opened for Michael Chavis, and he has a few doors to choose from.

The past, present, and future all came together Thursday night in Marietta, Ga. at Kell High School for Chavis. Taking the field with his teammates and some of his closest friends would bring nostalgia, while caught up in the present after beating Kell by a score of 8-1 and clinching the 7–AAAAA regional title. Doing so in front of dozens of scouts there to see Chavis play would represent the future, a future likely to be determined on June 5th, the first day of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

If you look at the numbers it would appear Chavis had a very below-average game by his standards. However, he hit the ball hard in three of his four at-bats despite only one falling in for a hit. His smooth and quick actions at shortstop also gave scouts a good glimpse of what they would get if they moved him out of his most commonly played third base spot. Chavis had a hand in all three double plays turned by Sprayberry in the region-clinching victory.

“It’s bittersweet,” Chavis said when asked about his final days of putting on a Sprayberry uniform. “I’m really glad we went out on top. It was a great win for us, especially after a tough loss on senior night. I love playing with this group of guys. We have twelve seniors so it’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to all of them.”

When asked if Chavis had a specific high school baseball memory that stands out the most, he couldn’t retell any certain event.

“Everyday we get to come out here and play baseball is a great memory. I can’t think of one day where we haven’t come out here and just laughed our butts off and just had a great day,” Chavis said while laughing, reflecting on those days.

Maybe his fondest memory will be winning a state championship next month. With Sprayberry’s outstanding 17-8 overall record, led by projected first-round draft pick Chavis, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination.

Scouts surely wouldn’t mind seeing Sprayberry make a deep playoff run if it means more opportunities to see the 13th ranked high school prospect in the country play, and hit especially.

Perfect Game’s David Rawnsley had this to say about Chavis’ swing in his Draft Focus article:

It’s a pro-style swing that’s going to need very little in terms of adjustments at the next level.”

Scouts are well-aware of Chavis’ hitting tool, flocking to the corner of the first base dugout for the best angle to see the right-handing hitting Chavis swing the bat. The swarm of scouts quickly piles in as soon as number eleven reaches the on-deck circle. Once his at-bat is done they all retreat back to their posts in unison and carry on casual conversation as before. They would repeat this routine four times throughout Thursday night’s game. Chavis has become accustomed to the spectacle.

“At first it’s a little eye-opening. It’s like ‘wow, that’s a lot of people here to see me,” said Chavis. “As it went on I got used to it. I got to the point where I would think ‘if they are here then they know I’m good, so I don’t need to impress them. I should just play my game and have fun like I do.’ That’s when I started playing my best.”

At just 5-foot-11, Chavis has built a strong core and lower body to give him excellent power at the plate. The Sprayberry star is hitting .627 (32-for-51) with thirteen extra-base hits, seven of which were home runs. If a professional team decides Chavis will be a second baseman, he will be a power-hitting second baseman, which is a diamond in the rough.

In fact, Chavis has displayed tremendous power throughout his Perfect Game career, connecting for home runs in five different Perfect Game tournaments during the summer of 2012 and finishing with thirteen total. He was also the Rawlings Home Run Challenge champion last August at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego. His most memorable home run, however, occurred just a week ago.

“My favorite home run has been the walk-off grand slam I hit against Riverwood High School,” said Chavis. “We were down by two runs and I got a first-pitch curveball and I hit it out in right-center. He just left it hanging on the outside corner and I just went with it. Everybody was fired up and there was a big crowd watching.”

Another big part of Chavis’ game isn’t necessarily a skill-tool, but it’s something scouts and coaches take notice to. The way Chavis plays the game is with one-hundred-percent hustle one-hundred-percent of the time.

“I think it should be a hard-nosed, hard-played game where you sprint everywhere you go and play as hard as you can every pitch of the game,” Chavis said. “People say baseball is a slow-paced game, but I think it depends on how you play it. I really like how Mike Trout goes about the game. He’s one of my favorite players.”

Chavis received high marks from Rawnsley regarding the way he goes about the game as well.

“Chavis’ aggressiveness and overall approach to the game, along with his increased athleticism, is a primary reason that he moved quickly up the Perfect Game rankings and in the eyes of professional scouts. He’s a very high motor player who goes full speed every minute on the field.”

Although everyone is very aware of the hit tool Chavis possesses, he is almost equally impressive with the glove. The 2013 Perfect Game All-American who typically plays third base is well aware of the talk that he could be moved to a middle infield position once drafted and doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all.

“I’m more comfortable at third base because that’s where I’ve been playing a lot more recently, but moving over to shortstop for high school isn’t that hard of a transition,” said Chavis. “I still have fun. I get to range a little bit more and make some throws on the run, so it’s fun. I enjoy both.”

“I’ll play shortstop, third, second, wherever anybody sees me playing. Honestly, my favorite position is hitting, so as long as I’m hitting I’m happy.”

He doesn’t have to worry about that part. In fact, he said on game days he takes batting practice at two o’clock for the scouts since he gets out of school early.

Listed at 21st overall in Perfect Game’s latest Top 100 Prospects and projected as a first round pick in the upcoming draft, Chavis said many students are aware that the Clemson University commit may never step foot on the baseball field there. He acknowledged that people do question him about it, some students even ask him for autographs, but he doesn’t let the fame get to his head.

“I feel like if I got too caught up in it I would start pressing too much,” Chavis said. “I’m just trying to have a good senior year and enjoy my last year of high school baseball and, maybe, my last year using a metal bat.”

After playing in the nationally televised Perfect Game All-American Classic and signing his own baseball cards, it would be hard not to get even a little anxious about what the future holds.

“That was an incredible experience. They treated us like we were already professional baseball players. They treated us like kings. It just made you want to reach the pros even more,” Chavis said, although he claims getting his own baseball card was the craziest part of the whole experience. “All my friends want one and then you get to Google yourself and see your baseball card being sold. It’s a cool thing to have.”

That’s all in the past now, though. Chavis and his team have playoff run to make and a state championship to try to win. Not to mention, the MLB Draft is just around the corner.

“If it plays out where I know I’m gonna go first round I might try and go to New York (location of the Draft), or I might have a big draft party at home with my friends and family,” said Chavis. “It depends on what happens leading up to that.”

Most mock drafts speculate Chavis will be off the board after the first round. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, Chavis is a special player with the tools to excel at the professional level, but for now the humble infielder is just glad to take the field at least one more time with his high school teammates.

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