Sam Travis is not necessarily your prototypcial first baseman. He's the sort of spray-hitter you'd expect at second base or center field rather than the not-so-hot corner, but he's not fast enough on his feet to handle those positions, and instead finds himself relegated to the place where teams hide their biggest bats with their worst gloves.
How does a player with Travis' profile wind up being taken in the second round? How does he wind up as a top-10 prospect in a highly-ranked--albeit admittedly top-heavy--farm system like Boston's?
Well, part of it is history. The Red Sox have had some pretty good results from players of Travis' ilk in years gone by. Here is someone without the greatest physical gifts who has worked hard to get the mental and skill-based aspects of the game down pat. He doesn't just go up to the plate and swing away, but fights through at bats to get in good counts and work walks when he's not given the right pitch to hit. He's not a good first baseman defensively by virtue of unusual athleticism for the position, but because he knows how to play it.
For Red Sox fans that should ring a bell. Kevin Youkilis, anyone? Billy Beane hasn't dubbed Travis the Greek God of anything, but it's a description that could likely have been applied to the first baseman back in his early years in the majors. Hell, there's even a whiff of Anthony Rizzo back in the days he was a Red Sox farmhand rather than a Chicago star.
Those two, however, developed serious power. Youkilis averaged 22 homers from 2008 to 2012. Rizzo has topped 30 in each of the last two seasons.
Is that beyond the reach of Sam Travis? The answer is technically "no" because who can really say? But for all practical purposes, it's much closer to "yes" than we'd probably like to admit. Like 99% of the way there. But for all that everyone loves a good dinger, they're not an absolute requirement. To return to the Youkilis example, back in 2006, he hit just 13 of them, but produced a line of .279/.381/.429 all the same. That line wasn't quite as impressive then as it would be today, but it was strong all the same, and it should look pretty familiar to Travis given that he hit .300/.384/.436 in Portland last year. If he can combine offense like that with above-average defense, he'll be a valuable player.
Whether it's in Boston or elsewhere? That might depend on that other Travis the Red Sox have around. Though, of course, it wasn't long ago at all that Shaw was the guy in Double-A without the top tools, just with less credit from scouts and a longer shot to make it happen.
- Yoan Moncada
- Andrew Benintendi
- Rafael Devers
- Anderson Espinoza
- Michael Kopech
- Brian Johnson
- Sam Travis
We're onto number eight! If you don't know how it works by now...well, fine, I'll tell you. Rec the comment of your chosen candidate below. If your chosen candidate doesn't have their own thread, feel free to make your own. So long as it's for a valid Red Sox prospect. I see you jokers with your Juan Carlos Linares and Lars Anderson votes, and I am only slightly amused. And also sad. Oh, Lars...