For a 25 year old that has been in three different organizations in the past two season, Angel Chavez still hasn't lost all of his prospect luster. Chavez spent his off-season getting acclimated to an entirely new coast, as the Philadelphia Phillies claimed him off of waivers from the San Francisco Giants. He spent the first half of his season struggling in AA Reading, but seemingly turned a corner after a promotion to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. When the Orioles unloaded Jeff Conine and his vesting option on the Phillies in August, Chavez was shipped down I-95 to the Baltimore Orioles.
DOB: 7/22/81 Height: 6-0 Weight: 175 B/T: R/R
Angel Chavez's age 25 season:
Chavez has intermittently shown respectable pop in his bat, especially for a middle infielder. The problem has never been a lack of potential, just a lack of consistency. 2006 was no different, as Chavez actually displayed considerably more with the bat after a promotion to AAA. As you can see, neither of his league contexts were exactly hitter's havens, so his second half performance was actually quite promising. Chavez will never hit for a great average due to his poor plate discipline and his on base percentage will suffer as a consequence. He can, however, drive a mistake pitch over the wall. Organizational context is also in Chavez's favor, as he hit lefties for a 1.062 OPS in limited at bats in AAA. He has slightly above average speed and is smart on the base paths.
This is where Angel Chavez really shines. He has plus raw arm strength and has become more consistent with his throws as he's gotten more playing time at each infield position. Chavez also has plus range for shortstop and is versatile enough to play a good third base and second base. Both the Giants and the Phillies moved him around between all three positions, grooming him for a utility role.
As utility infielders go, the Orioles could do considerably worse. With his lefty-mashing ability, Chavez fills a need vacated by the potential departure of Chris Gomez. However, with Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada firmly entrenched in the middle infield, it will be an uphill battle for Chavez to get a look at a starting role. He will enter spring training with an outside shot at making the big league team, but will most likely head to AAA Norfolk to start the season. The Orioles will shift him around the infield to maintain his versatility and he should get a look at some point in 2007, most likely when Melvin Mora takes his annual mid-summer, injury-induced vacation. Sparkling defense and a .250/.300/.400 batting line are entirely within reach. Platooned effectively, Chavez is a perfectly useful reserve.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com