While the nation collectively suffered through sweltering, record-breaking heat this summer, few young baseball prospects were swinging a more sizzlin' bat than the East Cobb Braves' Michael Chavis.
A class of 2014 shortstop/third baseman/outfielder from Marietta, Ga., Chavis just began his junior year at Sprayberry High School. He spent the summer tearing the cover off the ball in four of the five Perfect Game tournaments at which he played for the Braves, and although he hit safely only twice in the fifth event, both went for extra bases.
"I think I had a pretty solid summer," Chavis said in a telephone conversation with Perfect Game this week. "I mainly just played to have fun and enjoy the game and that's when I play my best. As long as I'm having fun, that's when I feel like I'm doing my job."
Chavis did his job both at the plate and in the field better than most in tournaments starting with 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational June 6-10 in his hometown of Marietta. Playing in just three games in the summer season-opener, Chavis was 5-for-8 (.625) with a double, triple, home run, six RBI and a .700 on-base percentage.
It was just the beginning. In five tournaments this summer -- the 17u/18u PG-EC Invitational; the 16u PG BCS Finals in Fort Myers, Fla.; the PG WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship in Marietta; the PG WWBA 2014 Grads or 16u National Championship, also Marietta; and finally at the 17u Perfect Game World Series in Peoria, Ariz. -- Chavis hit a combined .452 (33-for-73) with seven doubles, four triples, six home runs, 28 RBI and 35 runs scored.
Thanks to 15 walks, he posted a .545 OPS and managed to hit at least one homer in all five tourneys, four of which were being played for PG national championship trophies and rings.
Chavis was named to the all-tournament team at four of the five events. He was also named to the Louisville Slugger MLB Prime Nine select team after the 17u PG World Series (July 24-28), joining a group that included 2012 Perfect Game All-Americans Zack Collins, A.J. Puk and Justin Williams.
He hit .400 (8-for-20) at the inaugural 17u PGWS with a triple, two home runs, six RBI and 10 runs, and was the only 2014 named to the elite Louisville Slugger honor squad.
"Toward the end of the summer I felt much better," Chavis said. "In the beginning, I was kind of stressed out about the scouts and everybody coming, but once I got used to that and having them coming to see me, I calmed down and started to play my game. It's gotten to the point now that if a scout's there then they know that I can perform. I've gotten to the point where I can calm down and play my game without worrying about it.
"There were points during the year where I felt good at the plate and I felt comfortable in the field."
The only time he didn't receive post-tournament accolades was at the PG WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship in Marietta July 6-13, when he was 2-for-11 (.182), albeit with a double, a home run, two RBI and six runs. That didn't diminish the enjoyment of the experience playing "up" an age-group in three of the tournaments he played in.
"The better talent that you're playing with on the same team as well as the talent you're playing against, that just makes you all the better," Chavis said. "The better the kids you can play with and against, that must makes you better than anything else you could ever do."
In the two 16u events in which he played, he hit a combined .529 (18-for-34) with five doubles, two triples, two home runs, 14 RBI and 16 runs.
Chavis has now played in 13 PG tournaments since 2010, all with teams in the East Cobb Baseball organization (he is yet to participate in a PG showcase). Being from Marietta, where ECB is based, the association seemed like a natural, but it's important to remember that the powerful Braves won't welcome just anyone walking the streets.
"East Cobb, obviously, has a great program with their (history) and everybody that's come through there," Chavis said. "I think just playing there and being part of the program has made me a better player, and hopefully I'll keep thriving being a part of their program."
Chavis made a verbal commitment to Clemson University just last Sunday (Aug. 19), choosing the Tigers after also considering Georgia Tech and Georgia. He was the fourth commitment to Clemson head coach Jack Leggett's 2014 class, joining right-hander Katon Harwood (Asheville, N.C.), left-hander Charlie Barnes (Sumter, S.C.) and infielder Adam Renwick (Roebuck, S.C.).
"I've been visiting colleges and I've been talking with colleges, and it was basically like as soon as I walked onto (the Clemson) campus and I saw everything, I just fell in love with it," Chavis said. "Everybody told me that when you walked onto a campus you're just going to know that place is meant for you and I really felt that (at Clemson)."
Chavis will continue to play basketball in the winter -- "It's not really a sport for me, it's more just baseball conditioning," he said with a laugh -- and this fall will play in leagues with the East Cobb Braves and with his high school's fall team.
He said he also plans on being on an East Cobb Baseball roster at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 25-29. He played with the East Cobb Astros White at last year's PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers.
When asked to provide a scouting report on himself, Chavis got right to the point:
"I think my strength is that I'm a pretty fundamental player all around," he said. "I just play the game hard and that's really all it comes down to. I've always been brought up to play as hard as you can at everything you do, whether it's school or anything else, just do your best and good things will come."
Through his hard work and willingness to play in front of MLB scouts and college coaches and recruiters at PG tournaments, Chavis has risen to No. 103 in the 2014 national prospect rankings. If he continues on the heated pace he set this summer, he should continue to climb the charts, although it really isn't anything he pays close attention to.
"I try not to look at the rankings because then I'm going to worry about 'Oh, this kid's better than me or this kid's worse than me,'" he said. "As long as I play my game and I have fun doing it, the ranking won't matter. People will see my talent and hopefully recognize the person I am and how hard I play the game, and they'll accept me for that."