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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Can Travis Lakins prove 2016 was an outlier?

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Travis Lakins hasn’t been healthy or productive since being drafted. Is 2017 the year?

Photo via Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

We are at a very confusing point on our list of Red Sox prospects, with about a hundred different options for each spot. In this last vote, six players finished with between 10 and 18 percent of the vote. Travis Lakins was the one with 18, and that was enough to take the number 13 spot on our list.

Lakins was selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2015 draft out of Ohio State. The college pitcher was seen as having some potential due to his solid fastball and two solid breaking balls, but command was a big question mark for the righty. After signing, Lakins wouldn’t get into much action in 2015. His only regular season appearance came in Lowell in September of that year, and he only threw two innings. Still, he impressed in the fall instructs later that year, and that had some excited about his potential for 2016.

Those people were ultimately disappointed, as Lakins did nothing but backtrack. The Red Sox were aggressive with the 22-year-old, as they sent him to Salem for his first professional season. It’s not outrageous for a college pitcher to be sent right to High-A, but some seasoning in Greenville may have helped. Lakins made 19 appearances last year (18 of them starts) and he pitched to a horrid 5.93 ERA. Command was something of an issue for him, as he walked 3.6 batters per nine innings and was roughed up to the tune of an .829 OPS.

To be fair to Lakins, he got off to a nice start in Salem. Over five April starts he pitched to a 2.13 ERA with over a strikeout per inning and opponents putting up an OPS of just .638. After that, things fell apart. Much of that was likely due to an elbow injury that he was pitching through for much of the year. He was eventually shut down for the year at the end of July.

Now entering his age-23 season and without really showing anything as a professional, scouts are starting to back off Lakins a bit. Or, at least most of them are. Keith Law remains high on the righty, ranking him number five in the entire system. Law blames the injury for his problems, and expects him to get back to normal if healthy this year. Lakins’ fastball is solid, and can get up to 96 mph but normally sits in the low 90’s. The curveball is his money pitch, though. The breaking ball is his putaway offering and projects to be an above-average offering at full maturity. He also has a changeup that’s been effective at times.

This is a big year for Lakins, who was expected to be on the fast track and give the team some upper-level pitching depth by this point. After the setback that was his entire 2017, it’s likely that he’ll start the year back in Salem to repeat High-A. If he is healthy and can prove that last year’s struggles were because of his elbow, though, he should be able to earn a relatively early promotion to Portland.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes
  9. Michael Chavis
  10. C.J. Chatham
  11. Josh Ockimey
  12. Nick Longhi
  13. Travis Lakins

As always, you can vote for the next prospect below.