There were two 17-year-olds at the recent Red Sox Instructional Camp.
One them has gotten plenty of publicity, with third-round pick Blaze Jordan not only hitting the ground running when it comes to Red Sox’ fans’ attention thanks to his high school home-run-hitting prowess, but what many described as a standout performance in Fort Myers during his introduction to professional baseball.
But the other — a player 15 days older than Jordan — has quietly offered some unexpected optimism to the ranks of Red Sox’ prospects. Meet Juan Chacon.
“We were on him pretty early,” said Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero, who helped lock up the Venezuelan outfielder during the international signing period in July 2019. “He wasn’t somebody that was on the showcase circuit, either. Is it a win? I will tell you in six or seven years. For now I’m just glad he showed up in great shape and performed really well. I wasn’t expecting him to perform that well. We usually don’t see that with somebody that young in their first time.”
The fact that Chacon possesses upside is no surprise. He represented the largest investment of any of the Red Sox’ 2019 international signees, reeling in a $900,000 signing bonus. But because of the pandemic-induced challenges that came with the 2020 minor-league season, he hadn’t truly been put on display for his new organization.
The Red Sox wanted to see what they had in Chacon, hence the invite to Instructional Camp. What they saw, they liked.
“It was our official version of seeing him, finally under supervision,” Romero said. “He’s a tool-set. He is a plus-runner. It was something when we first saw him he kept getting faster every time and by signing day he was running a 6.6 60. He’s got above-average arm strength. We think he’s somebody who can stay in the middle of the field and cover a lot of range. He’s got a strong arm. And offensively, right now he’s got a projectable frame. He’s very athletic. He’s somebody from an offensive standpoint, he uses the whole field. More of a line-drive approach now. I heard some comparisons to Jeff Francoeur, somebody like that, early on. We’ll see. He may develop some power because that depends on where the physicality goes. It’s an exiting up-the-middle talent. He performed well at instructs, which for a first-year signee, usually those guys there aren’t many of them we push straight to the States-side instructional league.; We wanted to see him and he did well and I know he caught some attention.
Romero added. “When we send somebody that young there, we are just hoping they can make the bus trips on time. The fact that he was able to acclimate himself … It also helps that his support group, his agency and his family allowed him to stay in the U.S. He’s Venezuelan but his family was in Colombia during the pandemic and they got him to Miami to work out at a facility over there. That helped a lot in terms of getting somewhat of an edge from a strength and conditioning standpoint. He had a facility where he could go hit at. I think that was huge in terms of getting him prepared to perform well in the instructional league.”