MLB.com ranks Travis Shaw amongst top first base prospects

Jared Wickerham

Yes, Travis Shaw is a top first base prospect. Sort of.

In what should be seen more as a commentary on the nature of player development than anything else, Travis Shaw has been ranked the 8th best first base prospect in baseball by MLB.com.

The description of Shaw is accurate enough:

8. Travis Shaw, Red Sox: The son of former All-Star reliever Jeff Shaw had a breakthrough 2012 season but struggled in Double-A last year. He got back on track by hitting .361 with five homers in 17 Arizona Fall League games, and he has consistently demonstrated an ability to hit for power and draw walks. If he can curb a tendency to get homer-conscious, which reared its head in 2013, Shaw could hit for a decent average as well.

Shaw is not a non-prospect. He's just one year removed from hitting .305/.411/.545 in High-A Salem, and while one good year a star does not make, one bad year doesn't make him not worth watching anymore. He has some tools, and if they don't seem all that likely to make the transition to the majors, that's still a non-zero chance.

That being said, the idea of being a top first base prospect is rather misleading in today's game. The minor leagues are littered with tomorrow's first basemen, they're just many of them playing elsewhere. Whether behind the plate, at third base, or even in the corner outfield, teams are keeping their best players at more valuable positions with the knowledge that, should it not work out, they can always head in to first base.

This is not to say that there are no top first base prospects, just that the list drops off in a hurry, and that's how guys like Travis Shaw end up making the top-10. He's worth keeping an eye on, but this is not a placement worth getting worked up over.

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