After last year’s abbreviated Major League Baseball draft left Parker Chavers waiting to hear his name called, the former LAMP standout entered this year’s draft with a much better understanding of what to expect.
By mid-afternoon, he learned he was a seventh-round pick of the Chicago Cubs, the fifth college player and second outfielder selected by the Cubs.
“It’s kind of hard to predict,” Chavers said. “The draft is obviously a fluid situation. Everyone has their draft board and things change. In most cases, they’re going to take the best on their board. Talking with my advisor, we were anywhere from Round 3 to Round 7. I was obviously hoping it would be a little earlier but things worked out. I’m just fortunate to be picked and I’m ready to go play.”
Chavers has endured a rollercoaster collegiate career, albeit most of it on a positive note. After initially signing with East Tennessee State, he was released from that letter of intent after his college coach retired and found an opportunity to play at Coastal Carolina, where he made an immediate splash as a true freshman.
Chavers was a 2018 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American and named to the 2018 Baseball America Freshman All-America, D1Baseball Freshman All-America, and Perfect Game/Rawlings All-America second teams following his first year at Coastal.
He was a second team all-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2018 (and 2021) and a first team selection in 2019. He had shoulder surgery and missed 2020 -- which was cut short by COVID-19 and included just 16 games -- but played in 168 games over the remaining three years, leading the team with a .323 average in 2018, batting .316 with 15 home runs in 2019 and leading the team in hitting (.318), hits (62), doubles (12), and stolen bases (14) in 2021. He also recorded five home runs, two triples, 33 RBIs, and scored 32 runs while posting a .477 slugging percentage and a .407 on-base percentage on the year.
He closed out his collegiate career by hitting .319 with 198 base hits, 27 home runs, seven triples, 36 doubles, 129 RBIs and 134 runs scored, adding 101 walks, six sacrifice flies and 33 stolen bases while posting a .530 career slugging percentage and a .426 career on-base percentage. His seven triples are 12th all-time in school history, while his 101 career walks rank 13th and 27 career home runs are tied for 17th all-time in Coastal baseball history. His .530 career slugging percentage ranks 19th all-time in program history, while his .426 career on-base percentage ranks 16th in the Coastal annals.
Last season, he was projected in nearly the same spot in the draft, but with just five rounds he went undrafted and returned to Coastal Carolina for his senior season. A teammate from his Cape Cod summer-league team, Duke’s Matt Murvis, was signed as a free agent last year by the Cubs and plays first base for their Single-A team in Myrtle Beach, just a few minutes from Chavers’ collegiate team.
“They’re a great organization,” Chavers said of the Cubs. “I actually have some buddies that got drafted last year and are playing for them now and they all seem to love it and have great things to say, so I’m excited to get to work.”
He didn’t have a chance to participate in many individual workouts for teams, so he wasn’t sure which teams had him higher on their respective draft boards. The changing face of Major League Baseball, which took over the minor league system and consolidated leagues by wiping out Short Season A teams and Rookie League franchises, leaves Chavers and other draft picks uncertain of what happens next.
“I talked to the Cubs right after I got picked, briefly,” he said. “They just said to enjoy the day, hang out with your family and we’ll talk again in a few days. I’m not really sure where I’ll be. Generally speaking, after the draft everyone goes out to the spring training site, signs their contract and does evaluations.”