Red Sox Prospects: C.J. Chatham

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The sun is shining in Ft. Myers, Florida, and Spring Training is upon us. JetBlue Park, also known as Fenway South, will be packed with anxious Red Sox fans trying to get autographs from their favorite players and watch the 2018 World Series Champions embark on a quest to repeat.

Photo courtesy of mlb.com

One of the players at Spring Training to watch is Red Sox prospect C.J. Chatham.  The Florida native is in camp with Boston, taking swings in the cage and grounders with fellow shortstop Xander Bogaerts.  Let’s take a closer look at the Sox prospect.

The Red Sox drafted infielder Chatham in the second round in the 2016 MLB Draft.  The Sox signed Chatham to a $1.1 million dollar signing bonus.  Chatham, 24, out of American Heritage High School, was a hard throwing closer.  He received interest from numerous teams, including the Red Sox, due to his 96 mph fastball.  In fact, the Red Sox were monitoring Chatham for years.

After high school, Chatham committed to Florida Atlantic.  In his final season at FAU, Chatham earned the honors of Louisville Slugger First Team All American, Conference USA Player of the Year, and First Team All-Conference USA.  As a junior in 2016, he led the Owls hitting with a .357 average, 8 HR, 50 RBI with 89 hits.  He ended up breaking his thumb at the end of his junior year, but that didn’t stop the Sox.

Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox drafted Chatham as a shortstop in 2016.  The Communications major would leave school and pursue baseball.  Other teams had interest in Chatham, including the Blue Jays, but his preference was to be drafted by the Sox.

His first two years in the Sox system, Chatham was nipped by the injury bug, however, 2018 proved to be a healthy one for the 24-year-old shortstop.  Chatham split time between both Greenville and Salem in the Sox system last season.  In 95 games played with Salem, he hit .315 with 3HR, 43RBI.

From an offensive perspective, he looks like a gifted hitter.  His patience at the plate looks to be an opportunity as he doesn’t walk much; only 21 times in 362 ABs last season with Salem.  Chatham is a pure line drive hitter with raw average power, Chatham feels the raw power is there for him.

“The power’s there,” Chatham said. “It’s for sure there. Something in my swing this past year was not letting me get that backspin that I have in the past,” he told MassLive this spring.


Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series ChampsAt 6’4”, Chatham could draw comparisons to the Yankee fill-in shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki.  Both players have similar size and make up.  They also draw some comparisons from a health stand point.  Chatham has suffered from hamstring issues throughout his early career.

Chatham shows he has versatility in the field.  As noted earlier, he was looked at as a closer out of high school.  He has a plus arm that will allow him to make the deep throws from short, and is open to trying additional positions as he develops through the system.  In an interview with MLB.com, he was asked about trying different positions.  “I think it's shortstop only right now. From what I've seen being around some other guys, once I develop more and start getting to the higher levels, then I'll start making the adjustment with moving.”

Coming into 2019, he ranks ninth in the Red Sox farm system among prospects.  Chatham received an invite to Spring Training, but given the level of the Sox system, he doesn’t figure to make the 25 man roster.

What Chatham does provide is depth in the Red Sox system.  He will also figure to play more of a vital role in the Red Sox approach to building their team in 2020.  The Red Sox have key players eligible for free agency, such as Xander Bogaerts, who is eligible to hit the market at the end of 2019.

As the top shortstop in the Sox system, Chatham could serve as the replacement for Bogaerts.  I am not suggesting Chatham will be the player Bogaerts has become, but Chatham’s versatility should allow him to figure into the Sox plans in the future.

Chatham looks to play with the Portland Sea Dogs in 2019, and the 24-year-old prospect will look to build on his first full professional season.  As Chatham approaches the spring he will look to build a rapport with both Bogaerts and Boston Manager Alex Cora, a former infielder in his own right.

Overall, 2019 is an important year for Chatham as the Red Sox look to figure out their future from a contractual perspective.  Chatham has all the tools to become a big league player, but his health will figure to the factor in the decision making for the Sox.  Chatham is an intriguing top 10 prospect in the system and could very well be the future starting shortstop of the Boston Red Sox.


Follow me on Twitter @ChrisHenrique.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Red Sox Prospects: C.J. Chatham
Red Sox Prospects: C.J. Chatham
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