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Boston takes versatile infielder Chavis with 26th pick

Boston takes versatile infielder Chavis with 26th pick

BOSTON -- How about an undersized infielder with surprising power and an outgoing personality?

The Red Sox have gone down that road before with Dustin Pedroia.

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Ten years later, the Sox traveled it again Thursday with the selection of Michael Chavis with the 26th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.

The right-handed-hitting Chavis hails from Sprayberry High School of Marietta, Ga. Chavis offers versatility on defense and a line-drive stroke at the plate.

Don't be fooled by the name of his high school. Chavis is anything but a spray hitter.

"It's funny, because his ballpark sits right up on a main street, a two-way highway kind of," said director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye. "I think, at times, Chavis is trying to hit cars going by. He's launching balls over the left-field wall. But the interesting thing about Michael is when you ask him to go the other way and you ask him to go to right field, he can kind of do it with ease.

"I think he kind of just got into this mode where when the scouts were in, he wanted to show his power and also probably wanted to hit some cars. It will be a pretty decent swing for what we like here over the Monster, because I think he'll probably put some balls on Lansdowne Street and make all the people sitting in the Monster Seats happy in BP, I can tell you that much."

Though he is listed in some places as a six-footer, Chavis is believed to be a little south of that.

"Growing up, I always have hit home runs," Chavis said. "I didn't realize that I was 'undersized.' Even being 5-11, 6-foot, [power] has always been a major part of my game. Hopefully it will just continue as a part in professional baseball."

If you want to compare Chavis to Pedroia, he will consider it a compliment.

"Oh yeah, it's been decent," Chavis quipped about Pedroia's career to date. "I love watching Pedroia play. He's a great player. How he plays and goes about the game is incredible. That's what I think some people are missing nowadays in baseball is that they kind of play lackadaisical and they're kind of relaxed. I like how he plays 100 percent and plays as hard as he can every single play of the game."

Before officially selecting Chavis on Thursday, the Red Sox already knew full well of the Pedroia-esque passion that he has for the game.

"You can just see his passion for the game, just even his workouts, the way he works, interacts with his teammates, his love for baseball," said Sawdaye. "He is a personable kid. I'll tell you, one of the last things we saw, we met with him about two-three weeks ago, and one of our scouts said, 'Why are you always smiling?' He said, 'You know what? Because I'm always happy.' That's kind of the way he plays. He plays with a smile on his face. He's a guy that has an infectious personality and hopefully it permeates in the clubhouse. A guy that I think fans in Boston will hopefully get to know and love up here in the big leagues."

For an 18-year-old, Chavis has a lot of confidence. That was proved by the fact he wore a bow tie to Thursday's Draft headquarters in Secaucus, N.J.

"When it came to the bowtie, it was just something when I was looking around, I said, 'That's what needs to happen.' I thought it would be a little flashy, kind of classy, I thought I'd bring it out," said Chavis.

Chavis hit .580 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs while stealing 21 bases in his senior year.

The Red Sox drafted Chavis as a shortstop, but most projections have him playing either third base or second base as a professional.

"I think that depends on where they need me the most," said Chavis. "I can see myself playing third base or second base. It really just comes down to where they need me. I'm willing to play either one."

At least at the start, Chavis will probably get to play some shortstop at the pro level.

"I think we'll send him out as a shortstop initially, and you know, his ultimate role will probably be dictated on what he does," said Sawdaye. "Third and second are both viable options. I mean, we like to give these kids an opportunity to stay in the position that they play in high school most of the time and then talk to them a little bit about where they feel comfortable. If he doesn't play shortstop in the Major Leagues, we feel really strongly that he's going to stay on the dirt."

Though he has a commitment to Clemson, Chavis is now just a signature away from joining the tradition-laden Red Sox, who are coming off their third World Series championship in the past 10 seasons.

Chavis didn't leave much doubt that he'll end up signing with the Red Sox.

"I'm fairly comfortable saying that I am [going pro]," said Chavis.

Chavis was ranked No. 21 by MLB.com among all prospects eligible for the Draft.

Though it will probably be a while before Chavis can claim Fenway Park as his home office, he looks forward to his first chance to take aim at the Green Monster.

"I've actually never been to Fenway, and I couldn't be more excited about going, just to walk on the field," said Chavis. "I can't wait. It's going to be a great experience."

Even during his upbringing in Georgia, Chavis has received a taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

"I grew up split between the Yankees and the Red Sox because half of my mom's side loves the Red Sox and half loves the Yankees," Chavis told reporters at Draft headquarters. "Like my grandpa, my grandma, they love the Yankees. But all of my cousins and uncles are diehard Red Sox fans. So depending on what house I go to, is depending on what type of fan I was, because I didn't want to get kicked out of the house."

And Chavis even went to a Red Sox-Yankees game -- the final one played in the old Yankee Stadium back in 2008.

"It was incredible. I remember the Yankees won that game. It was real cool. It was a great experience," Chavis said.

But his best experiences are probably still to come.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Chavis. "I couldn't be more excited. With them winning the World Series last year, obviously they have a great program and a great organization and farm system. I can't wait to become a part of it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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