Boston Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec, 23, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound corner infielder, was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 out of the University of Arizona. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Bobby Dalbec enjoys seeing what Michael Chavis is doing in the big leagues.

“He’s killing it. It’s awesome to watch,” Dalbec said.

In time, will another Red Sox prospect wearing a Portland Sea Dogs uniform, say the same thing about Dalbec?

Dalbec, 23, had a breakout season in the minor leagues last year. And he’s getting better, especially of late.

In his past 12 games (through Saturday), Dalbec has batted .372 with five home runs and 13 RBI.

During one stretch last week, he sizzled in six straight plate appearances over two games – three home runs, a double and an intentional walk in one game, and then a home run in his first at-bat in the next.


“Obviously, he has light-tower power,” said Red Sox hitting coordinator Greg Norton.

Dalbec, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound corner infielder, was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 out of the University of Arizona. After being limited in 2017 with a broken hamate bone, Dalbec emerged last season with 26 home runs and a .945 OPS in 100 games in advanced Class A Salem and then six homers with a .836 OPS in 29 games with Portland.

The combined 32 home runs ranked Dalbec fourth among all minor leaguers in 2018.

“He has that unique ability to drive the ball out of any part of the ballpark,” said Portland Manager Joe Oliver, who managed in Salem last year.

“He can use that to his advantage and let the ball travel a little deeper.”

In 35 games with the Sea Dogs this spring, Dalbec is hitting .254 with seven home runs and 23 RBI, His OPS is .885.


When Dalbec was batting only .197 with two homers at the end of April, Oliver was not worried. “He got off to a slow start last year, too,” Oliver said. Indeed, on May 20, 2018, Dalbec was hitting .196.

Dalbec is turning it around more quickly this season, with more quality at-bats.

“Seems to me he’s swinging-and-missing a lot less,” Oliver said.

Not only is Dalbec’s on-base percentage (.385) at a career-high, but his strikeout rate is down – from 43 percent in Portland last year, to 31 percent.

Despite the improvement, many observers only saw the batting average in April, and were not complimentary. One NESN report called Dalbec’s start to the season “ugly.”

“All they focus on (is batting average). Whatever my on-base percentage was – while I’m hitting .190 – if that’s an ugly start, that’s a pretty good ugly start,” Dalbec said. “I feel I’m still helping the team win by getting on base.”


But where Dalbec really helps is with power. And it’s coming, with a .714 slugging percentage this month.

“It was just a matter of time, a matter of him getting into a rhythm,” said Sea Dogs hitting coach Lee May Jr. “For a big guy with that kind of swing, it takes a little bit of time. He was still managing his at-bats. There was no glaring (problem).

“Just getting in a flow and knowing how he’s going to be attacked.”

Pitchers are adjusting to Dalbec, and he’s adjusting back.

“You just have to throw everything at him,” said Hartford Yard Goats lefty Jack Wynkoop, who faced the Sea Dogs last week. “If he gets the pitch he’s looking for, he’s going to do a lot of damage.”

Dalbec is not just a slugger.


“He’s grown a lot … just a well-rounded player,” Norton said. “He plays defense well. He runs well, and has the ability to hit for average.”

In the field, Dalbec is usually manning third base, where he played at Arizona – when he wasn’t pitching – but he can also handle first. “I’m comfortable there,” he said.

If Dalbec can translate his offense to the majors, Boston will need to find him a position, which it has done so far with Chavis, another third baseman.

With Rafael Devers, 22, cemented at third base, Chavis also started seeing time at first. In the majors, with Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt injured, Chavis moved to second base. He was a shortstop when he was drafted by the Red Sox.

Boston has time to figure it out. It’s unlikely Dalbec gets called to the majors this year. He still needs to go on the 40-man roster before December, to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Then the Red Sox can watch Dalbec continue developing into the power threat they envision.

“He’s a force to be reckoned with,” Norton said.

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