Arizona Fall League batting practice chatter with Michael Chavis, Austin Riley, and Alex Jackson

Peoria, AZ – November 10, 2017

Michael Chavis, 3B, Boston Red Sox 92/100 and 2nd overall in the Red Sox organization

Chavis came into 2017 with 25 professional HR, slugging .396, in 873 at bats.  I asked him if he had many any swing changes or adjustments that lead to a monster 2017 season that saw him swat 31 long balls and slugging .563, earning a promotion to AA.  Chavis told me that he did not make any adjustments but attributed his breakout season to being healthy and essentially maturing as a hitter.

Chavis hit a walk off HR the day before.  He is currently slashing .260/.329/.452

Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves 10th ranked prospect in the Braves organization

Riley’s professional career is off to a nice start with back to back 20 HR seasons and a promotion to AA in Mississippi.  He has also shown to be a torrid second half hitter.  In 2016 at single A Rome, he posted a .617 OPS in the first half and as the weather improved, so did his bat, posting a .929 OPS in the second half.  2017 saw the same trend. At High A Florida, Riley’s OPS was .709 in the first half.  Despite the slow start, Riley was promoted to AA where he blew up to the tune of a .900 OPS and 8 HR in 48 games.  I asked him if there was anything to it, and he told me that he had no idea why but he hoped to figure it out in 2018.

Riley is currently leading the Arizona Fall League in HR with 6 while slashing .333/.397/.772

Alex Jackson, C, Atlanta Braves 16th ranked player in the Braves organization

Jackson was considered one of the top hitters in the 2014 draft out of high school.  He was taken 6th overall by Seattle and converted to OF.  While he displayed some good pop at times, he swatted only 21 HR from 14-16.  The Braves acquired him for 2 pitchers and converted him back to catcher.  Jackson responded with 14 HR in the Florida State League before earning a promotion to AA and hitting 5 more HR.

I asked Jackson if his success was tied to a switch of organizations and positions.  He stated that his success had nothing to do with switching organizations and hinted that a return to catching has helped him by allowing him to see more pitches while on defense. According to him, the biggest reason for his success in 2017 was just going out and having fun.  “How can you not have fun doing this everyday!”

Jackson is currently tied for 2nd in the AFL with 5 HR and is slashing .281/.333/.563

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