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2015 Red Sox top prospect voting #20: Let's wrap this up

Travis Shaw takes the 19th spot, leaving just one to go.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have already played baseball against two college teams, and tonight they'll play a fake game against a real team in the Minnesota Twins, so it's about time we finished up this whole voting thing.

Coming in at #19 is Travis Shaw, the second first baseman to make the list in a system that has produced a couple surprisingly high-quality players at the position this past ~decade (Kevin Youkilis, Anthony Rizzo) for how low a priority the position seems to be in building the system. Like Youkilis and Rizzo, Shaw was picked up in the later parts of the first ten rounds, where the hits are generally few and far between.

The comparisons should probably stop there, however, because they start to become less-than-favorable. Unlike Youkilis, Shaw has never been proclaimed the Greek God of anything. Unlike Rizzo, he hasn't shown up on any top-100 lists. Shaw has largely been an afterthought in a series of well-stocked systems, particularly after a disappointing 2013 season saw him stall out at Portland, where he hit to a .736 OPS in his age 23 season.

And yet, Shaw's heights have been awfully high. In 2012, he hit .287/.397/.517 between Salem and Portland. In 2014, taking his second shot at Double-A, he managed a .954 OPS in 200 plate appearances before getting the bump up to Pawtucket. He doesn't approach Youkilis' 18% BB rate, but at 13% he's no slouch, and he's shown rather more power than Youkilis who, lest we forget, enjoyed a three-year stretch as one of the game's better power hitters from 2008 to 2010.

There's no real reason to love Shaw at this point. He's 24 and just starting his first full year in Pawtucket after spending parts of three seasons in Portland. He's close to the majors, yes, but hasn't proven himself at the top level of the minors yet and, even if he does, is probably not the first line of defense against injuries. Even with a good year at Pawtucket, he's probably dangerously close to falling into Jeff Bailey purgatory from which there is little chance to escape.

For all that, though, if Shaw hits in Pawtucket the way he hit for the first half of 2014 in Portland, it's going to demand some attention. That's not really so unlikely a scenario considering his history, and if the Red Sox don't take Marc's advice re: Mike Napoli, it's possible that a short window will open up for a young player like Shaw to establish himself in the majors with a big performance. We've seen that scenario before, and if it's unlikely that Shaw is capable of living up to that legacy, this is the #19 spot we're talking about. Sometimes a prayer is all it takes.

Now, one last time...