Don’t forget about Red Sox outfield prospect Juan Chacon

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, the Red Sox did not get their first official look at outfield prospect Juan Chacon until fall instructs began that October.

Boston originally signed Chacon, then a 16-year-old outfielder, out of Venezuela for $900,000 in July 2019 to make him the highest-paid player in their 2019-2020 international signing class.

Though the pandemic forced Chacon to miss what would have been his first taste of pro ball, he clearly did enough while at home to earn an invite to fall instructs and impress the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

With Minor League Baseball returning in full last year, Chacon — now 18 — was assigned to the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Blue affiliate in early June and spent the entirety of the 2021 season there. Across 47 games, the right-handed hitter batted .311/.426/.384 to go along with five doubles, two triples, one home run, eight RBIs, 45 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 26 walks, and 26 strikeouts over 197 plate appearances. He also went 37-for-127 (.291) against right-handed pitchers and 14-for-36 (.389) against lefties.

Among all DSL hitters who made at least 190 trips to the plate in 2021, Chacon ranked fourth in runs scored, 22nd in strikeout rate (13.2%), 14th in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, 30th in OPS (.811), and 24th in wRC+ (136), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Chacon saw action in both center and right field while splitting time at each position with fellow Venezuelan Jhostynxon Garcia. All told, the 6-foot-2, 171 pounder logged 216 2/3 innings in center and 119 1/3 in right in the process of registering four outfield assists and turning a pair of double plays.

As far as how evaluators feel about his game, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall wrote in September that “scout feedback on Chacon has been tepid, with scouts praising the looseness in his swing but worried about a lack of physical projection and power potential.”

On the other side of the ball, Cundall notes that Chacon profiles best as a corner outfielder due to his average speed and arm strength as well as a need to improve in the route-running department.

Chacon, who turned 19 in December, still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. The Valera native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected by the site to begin the 2022 season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox and is already in Fort Myers for the start of minor-league spring training.

(Picture of Juan Chacon via his Instagram)

Red Sox prospect Juan Chacon ‘caught some attention’ at fall instructs, Eddie Romero says

Like fellow prospect Chih-Jung Liu, Juan Chacon’s baseball experience in 2020 was anything but normal.

The 17-year-old was likely going to spend the majority of the year playing in the Dominican Summer League, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that caused the minor-league season to be cancelled prevented that from happening.

Instead of getting more exposure in the Dominican, where he played in the Tricky League last summer, Chacon had to wait until early October to get his first real opportunity of 2020.

Up until then, Chacon had been working out a facility in Miami, which likely gave him an edge in preparedness when he received an invite to the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

“It was our official version of seeing him, finally under supervision,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero said of Chacon when speaking with WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “He has 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.”

The Red Sox signed Chacon, a right-handed hitter, out of Venezuela for $900,000 last July, making him the club’s highest-paid international signee for the 2019-2020 international signing period.

That is quite the investment, and with that investment comes somewhat lofty expectations; expectations which Chacon lived up to at fall instructs.

“He performed well at instructs,” Romero added. “Which for a first-year signee, usually [with those] those guys, there aren’t many of them we push straight to the stateside instructional league. We wanted to see him and he did well and I know he caught some attention.”

Regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 49 prospect, the 6-foot-2, 170 lb. outfielder will have the opportunity to ascend the prospect ranks some more once he actually gets the chance to see some in-game action. That will presumably happen in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League at some point in 2021.