First base prospects are hard to come by. Well, legitimate ones, anyway: oftentimes if you're a first base prospect, it's because there is nowhere else on the diamond to go, so if the bat doesn't pan out, neither does the prospect. You can feel a little more comfortable with them as they climb the organizational ladder, at least, and that's what is happening with Red Sox prospect Sam Travis.
MLB ranked Travis as the number 10 first base prospect in the game, and that's a good spot for him. He has real potential, but he also has real risks, and neither has outweighed the other quite enough at this point to shoot him up any further in the rankings.
Jim Callis would like to see a little more power out of Travis, but otherwise, he's looking good:
Travis is a gifted hitter who makes consistent hard contact to all fields and manages the strike zone well. He hit just nine homers in 2015 despite possessing the bat speed and strength to at least double that total if he were more aggressive at the plate. Travis doesn't swing for the fences, but he may need to do so more often to fit the power profile at first base.
Travis adjusted quickly to his ascent to High-A Salem to begin 2015 -- Travis was drafted in 2014, so High-A was an aggressive assignment -- and then found himself in Double-A around midseason. While, as Callis mentioned, the homers just weren't there, the 21-year-old still managed to bat .300/.384/.436 overall in his first taste of the upper minors, then continued to hit well in the Arizona Fall League, where he finished at .344/.394/.505 in 23 games.
He's probably never going to hit for a ton of power, but as he moves up to Triple-A and the majors, he might have to adjust a bit and let some of that patience translate into aggressiveness so as to avoid having pitchers control his plate appearances too much. He could lose a little batting average and on-base percentage in the process, but if he replaces it with loftier slugging, it'll more than even out.
It'll have to, as well, because Travis is stuck at first, as was alluded to earlier: if he can't make it at first, there might not be anywhere for him to make it. With Hanley Ramirez moving to designated hitter for 2017, though, there will at least be a spot for Travis available should his bat help him earn it this summer. Remember, he's just 22, and he's already successfully hitting at Double-A, so this isn't that aggressive a thought for him.