After a big 2016 campaign at High A Lynchburg and an even more impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, Chang entered this season with some serious expectations. Not only did Chang hit for more power than expected with a .208 ISO mark across 408 at-bats, but he played a very nice shortstop, making those in “The Land” believe he could stick there long term. Thus far in 2017, Chang has picked up right where he left off as far as the power goes. To date, he is tied for the Eastern League lead in home runs with six, three of which have been to the middle of the field, and an ISO up over .270. He is visibly stronger, having added what appear to be several pounds of muscle, while still maintaining his smooth, easy actions at the plate. That all said, Chang still has a good deal of work to do because while the power has shown up at the next level, the contact rates have not – and in order for him to continue to do damage he can’t continue to whiff in one-third of his at-bats. It is still very early I the season, and Chang is facing significantly better secondary stuff at the Double-A level compared to what he saw in High A last season, so some early struggles with the swing and miss are not a cause for alarm just yet.
Defensively, Chang’s profile has always been that of a guy who will make the routine plays, but isn’t overly twitchy and likely won’t make too many highlight-reel plays. However, he does have a little bit of an extra gear to his smooth actions when needed and his game clock is excellent. He will have to be careful though, as he already has five errors through his first month of Double-A action. He can likely handle the shortstop position long-term despite not having plus range, but consistently catching whatever he gets to is going to be key. The power is nice and plays very well as a middle of the field player, but likely falls to just fringe average if he needs to move to a corner spot.
Chang is a player to watch in 2017 — should he be able to get the strikeout rates down around 20% going forward, the increased contact will show up in the power production and likely send him to Miami for another MLB All-Star Futures Game appearance.