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Red Sox 2014 draft review: The one with Sam Travis

The Red Sox drafted a whole bunch of intriguing players in 2014, but the one who stands out today is Sam Travis.

Boston Red Sox Photo Day Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It's a little easier to spot the narrative of a draft that happened a few years ago. In 2011, you'd have to actively avoid trying to find the story there, which is that it's the draft class powering the 2016 Red Sox. The 2012 draft has its ups and downs, but is still a work-in-progress with plenty of hope attached. June 2013 provided the Red Sox with players to trade as well as a number of younger prospects they're still watching develop, so even with the failures at the top, it's still a potential success.

We're now looking at 2014, though, and that's just a little too close to the present-day to see what it is as a whole. What we do know, however, is that this is the draft with Sam Travis in it -- until he tore his ACL last week, Travis was a few more months of success in Triple-A from potentially being the starting first baseman for the 2017 Red Sox. So, that's the primary identity of this draft for now, but there are plenty of other picks who could help broaden its scope over the next few years, too.

1. Michael Chavis, 26th overall

Chavis is one of two relatively young players the Red Sox picked in these early rounds, and he spent most of his first full season in the minors struggling. He showed off some power, though, and before a thumb injury put him on the DL, looked like he was breaking out to begin 2016. The good news is that Chavis is still only 20 years old, and that he probably won't be in Low-A for long once he does return from injury. A 20-year-old in High-A still puts him well ahead of schedule, and if he hits better there than he did in his introduction to Greenville, we'll forget about his thumb in short order.

2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

1. Michael Kopech, 33rd overall

The bad news: Kopech saw his 2015 end prematurely after testing positive for a PED, and his 2016 will begin late because he broke his hand throwing a punch this spring. The good news: Kopech just turned 20, struck out nearly 10 batters per nine in Low-A last summer, and looked about ready for a promotion to High-A before his suspension.

When he does return to the mound, he'll likely still be on a low pitch count schedule given he didn't finish last year, but by 2017, he'll be just 21, in High-A, and presumably, still talented. If he can just avoid making another stupid decision, things should be fine from here on out. Emphasis on the "if" there.

2. Sam Travis, 67th overall

As mentioned, Travis is out for 2016 with a torn ACL. He could still win a job with the Red Sox in the spring, though, especially if his knee recovers well and early enough that Boston is confident in giving him a shot instead of running out to free agency or the trade market next offseason. It's just much more of an unclear situation than it already was.

Long-term, though, Travis is looking like a potential big-league first baseman. So, even if Kopech somehow never recovers or Chavis never quite gets where you hope he does, if Travis thrives, then the Sox did alright for themselves at the top of this draft. There's still a lot of time for all involved, so don't take that to mean "only Travis" is the likely scenario or anything.

Kelly O'Connor

3. Jake Cosart, 103rd overall

Cosart is still relatively new to pitching -- he made the switch to the mound after transferring to a junior college, which also allowed him to be drafted at 20 -- so don't judge him too harshly just yet. He's doing well enough for Low-A Greenville, in his first taste of full-season ball, with 40 strikeouts in 28 innings. He's also walking five batters per nine, so things aren't perfect, but limiting hits and missing bats is certainly a start.

The right-hander is still just 22 years old, and he's been used out of the bullpen the entirety of 2016. This doesn't mean he'll always be in the pen, but the Sox might find that his control is more tolerable there. If he keeps on missing bats to this degree, there's really no reason to move him from the role, either, as he'll have plenty of value even if he's only throwing 70-80 innings per year.

4. Kevin McAvoy, 134th overall

McAvoy was impressive last year when he was inducing a ridiculous number of ground balls at age 21 in High-A. He's now in Double-A with more walks than strikeouts, and the grounders are nowhere to be found: McAvoy has just a 37 percent grounder rate after 61 percent last summer. Part of this is that Double-A hitters are letting more pitches go in the lower portions of the zone than their High-A counterparts did, and the other is McAvoy failing to adapt to this new situation.

He's too young to give up on, and a little tweak and more accuracy could get his grounder numbers up once more, but he's going to have to improve both his control and command for that to happen.

5. Josh Ockimey, 164th overall

The question with Ockimey heading into the season was if his undeniable raw power would show up in-game now that he had moved to full-season ball. It's been two months and 49 games, and Ockimey is batting .298/.437/.538 with nine homers and 22 extra-base hits at a level where the average position player is hitting .250/.322/.369. Ockimey isn't some polished college product laying waste to the young, either: he's 20 years old, and the average position player in the Sally League is over a year his senior. All but 20 of his plate appearances have come against older pitchers, too.

The first baseman still has a long way to go -- after all, he is just in Low-A -- but his stock has increased significantly already in these first two months of the season. If he keeps it up, or heads to High-A and keeps on crushing baseballs, then the Sox very well might have two first base prospects worth paying attention to from this one draft.

7. Kevin Steen, 284th overall

Steen hasn't pitched yet in 2016, as he's 19 years old and spent last summer in short-season Lowell. It looks like he'll be back there this season, at least to begin his campaign. There's really no rush considering his youth and that he didn't dominate, and Sox Prospects mentions that he's a project you can "dream on" at this stage. So, short-season ball again, then maybe a late-season move to Low-A as the rosters above him shuffle toward their 2017 destinations.

11. Karsten Whitson, 344th overall

Whitson is now 24 and will be 25 in late-August, and only has a handful of appearances in the pros in that time. He was always going to be a long shot -- the Sox drafted him in the 11th-round, but they were mostly drafting the chance that this former first-round pick still had something to offer after injury. He's worth keeping an eye on if he does return to actual play, as he could always shift to the pen or have a late start to his career, but you probably don't want to bank on that at this point.

Update: Whitson was released in March, but has been injured so long that I thought that's why he wasn't pitching yet. So, uh, ignore the above.

12. Jalen Beeks, 374th overall

Beeks definitely has some things he needs to work on -- he gives up too many homers for a pitcher in the low minors, and he could use some more strikeouts -- but there is also potential here. He's most likely going to be a reliever in the long run, but nearly 400 picks in, that's a welcome return.

13. Chandler Shepherd, 404th overall

Shepherd could have been a starting prospect, and maybe even one drafted in the first few rounds, had a forearm laceration not sent him to the bullpen before he was selected. The Sox ended up getting him well into the 2014 draft, and he's shot through the minors in a way no one the Sox picked besides Sam Travis has.

Kelly O'Connor

Shepherd is in Double-A, punching out 11.5 batters per nine with a 2.22 ERA in relief, and a promotion to Triple-A doesn't seem far off. The Sox could use that influx of relief depth at Pawtucket, too, given Carson Smith's injury and Noe Ramirez's ineffectiveness already mean Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree are busy in Boston.

14. Jordan Procyshen, 434th overall

Procyshen isn't an exciting pick, but he has the defensive chops to maybe be a backup in the bigs someday if his bat pans out enough. Considering Sandy Leon is currently on the Red Sox roster thanks to injuries to Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart, you already know how important a backup backstop can be.

15. Trenton Kemp, 464th overall

There isn't a lot of info out there on Kemp -- his Sox Prospects scouting report, in its entirety, is as follows:

Athletic centerfielder with good tools. Excellent speed. Very raw - likely will need significant development time to translate physical abilities into baseball skills.

You can glean plenty from that, though. He's still something of a project, and not one you should expect in the bigs anytime soon. He's 20 years old, and hitting .252/.354/.465 for Low-A Greenville after spending 2015 in Rookie and short-season ball. More than anyone except for Steen, Kemp is someone we're going to have to play wait-and-see with. The tools are there, but whether they convert into actual, on-field production is the question. So far, so good.