Mar 22, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Michael Choice (15) runs the bases after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. The Royals won 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The last tale of the home town kid did not go exactly as planned. However, Michael Choice is no Chris Davis in many ways. Michael Choice probably won’t hit 53 homers at any point in his career. He also probably won’t play the infield. But Michael Choice and Chris Davis do have some similarities. Both of these players grew up in north Texas, Michael Choice graduated from Mansfield Timberview High School and went on to spend four years at The University of Texas at Arlington to be drafted by the Oakland Athletics 10th overall in the 2010 first year player draft. Davis graduated from Longview High School in 2006 and then was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 5th round of that summer’s draft. Davis was always heralded for his pure 80 grade power and high expectations were placed on him by himself and fans from the very start. Because of this Davis was never going to make it in Texas.
Texas gave him more than enough chances to make it in the bigs but he just couldn’t put it all together in Arlington. However, Michael Choice’s tale is different than Chris Davis. Choice has not had the insane pressure placed upon him to be the hometown savior that Davis was pegged to be. Michael Choice’s role has been clearly defined as a 4th outfielder and platoon DH and he has excelled in that role because of his poise and solid skill set.
Michael Choice’s most prevalent tool is his raw power, which has shown itself early in the season. Especially with this monster shot below and his first career homer above.
Choice had his best year in the minors in 2011 in the Class A advanced California league. Choice showed his ability to hit for average putting up a slash line of .285/.376/.542 per MiLB.com. Michael that year launched 30 homers and clubbed 28 doubles in 118 games. He also drew 61 walks but accumulated 134 strike outs. That was a 25% K rate, which was the most worrying aspect of Choice’s game and probably the reason that the A’s were willing to send him to a division rival. Choice has his strikeout rate down to 19.5% in the majors this year and a 15% walk rate, which is very solid. Choice has shown great poise in the MLB this year, especially when the situation is dire. Seeing Michael Choice bounce an RBI single up the middle is something we have grown accustomed to seeing early in this season. With the bases empty, Choice hits .136. With any runners on, he hits .367. Now when those runners are in scoring position, Choice comes up big hitting .429. These are fantastic numbers for a rookie even with a small sample size. (MLB stats via baseball-reference.com)
Choice’s glove and its versatility is another of his assets. Michael can play all three outfield positions well. In 193 complete innings in the majors, Michael Choice has yet to commit an error. This year he has started most of his games in left, 11 compared to 2 in both right and center. He has good range and his above average speed helps him to make all the plays he should. His arm strength won’t wow you but it will get the job done. Because of his non-cannon arm, he projects most likely as a left fielder with plenty of power expected from a corner outfield spot. He makes good reads off the bat and takes good routs to fly balls and is a particularly fundamentally sound defender in all parts of the outfield.
Blazing speed is not a term I would use to describe Michael Choice. Many scouts underrate his speed largely due to his lack of stolen bases. Choice’s one stolen base this year came on this extremely unorthodox play against his former team.
Also he only stole 21 bags in 4 years of Minor League ball (a high of 9 in 2011). His speed also shows itself a bit on this play in Anaheim.
This season is not likely to be Choice’s big break. Wash will find a way to get him consistent at bats like he has done so far this season, but unless one of the starting outfielders goes down with a serious injury or Mitch Moreland transforms into 2013 post All Star break Mitch Moreland, which also isn’t likely. Michael, who is under Ranger control through 2019, will have to wait until maybe next year to start every day. The most likely scenario for Choice to become a starter is for the club to pay the $1 million buyout on Alex Rios‘ contract to not take the $13.5 million team option, move Shin Soo Choo over to right field where he spent 573 games in his career (160 in CF and 85 in LF), and slot Choice in as their every day left fielder. This would most likely happen if they think Choice can give them enough production to be comfortable losing Rios. This could also happen if the club has an expensive free agent they wish to pursue and are more comfortable paying their outfield a total salary around $20.25 million (including Rios’ buyout) as opposed to $32.25 million with Rios (contracts according to baseball-reference.com).
If you’re looking for a player who Michael Choice’s career might resemble, look to Matt Holliday. A player with a plus hit tool, plus power, solid defense but probably won’t win any gold gloves. Holliday also has similar walk, strike out, and RBI numbers that you could see if Choice’s career pans out well. I honestly believe that the Rangers have found their left fielder of the future in Michael Choice. There isn’t anyone above A ball with more potential than Choice that could unseat him. Choice grew up cheering for the Rangers. The Rangers are a team he dreamt of playing for as a kid, and North Texas is home for Michael. To make things better, the Rangers’ biggest rival thought he was expendable, so this always adds more fuel to the fire for Choice to perform well against Oakland. Bottom line is Michael Choice is here for the long haul and is a player you can get excited about having on your team for the next few years. If you’re looking for a new and relatable favorite player Michael would be a great Choice! (Pun intended)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55