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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Sam Travis continues his search for the final step

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Will Sam Travis finally break through?

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

As we continue to move further down the Red Sox farm system in our community farm system rankings, the votes continue to finish closely. This one was close to a tie, but ultimately the vote went to Sam Travis. It’s an interesting contrast here, with Travis getting the spot right after a recently drafted high school pitcher with no professional experience. Either way, Sam Travis is our number seven Red Sox prospect.

Travis was Boston’s second round selection in the 2014 draft — the same draft that netted them Michael Chavis — out of the University of Indiana. He didn’t have a ton of hype coming out of college, but he was still a relatively polished bat who was expected to be able to move through the system in a fairly quick manner. Sure enough, the first baseman was mostly able to do that. He played in Lowell immediately upon being drafted, and after posting an .813 OPS in 40 games he got a promotion to Greenville to end that season. He hit well there, too, albeit in only 27 games, and the team saw that as enough to have Travis begin the 2015 season in Salem. Once again, he hit well posting an .845 OPS in the first half of the season and earning a mid-year promotion to Portland. He just continued to hit against Double-A competition, finishing with an .821 OPS at the level. He’d end that season by posting an .899 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. After getting an invite to spring training prior to the 2016 season and shining in the Grapefruit League, Travis was set to start the year in Pawtucket and eventually make his major-league debut. Instead, he tore his ACL in May and didn’t get to play again that year.

All of this led to 2017 being a big prove it year for Travis. On the one hand, he had done nothing but hit heading into that injury-shortened 2016 season. On the other hand, he had some issues with his scouting reports that we’ll get to in a minute and was entering his age-23 season. It was time to show he was a legitimate starting-caliber first baseman at the highest level. Unfortunately, the 2017 season didn’t go exactly as planned. He did make his major-league debut last year and had a few exciting moments, but he really didn’t show anything close to what would be required for confidence in him taking over first base on a full-time basis. Most of his year was spent in Pawtucket, and he wasn’t great there either, hitting .270/.351/.373 in 304 plate appearances. It wasn’t a disaster of a year by any means, but it also was the worst season he’s had as a professional.

As far as the scouting reports go, Travis is essentially a known quantity at this point. Defensively, he’s really a first base-only profile, though the team will try to get him some reps in the corner outfield spots to increase his value a bit. Still, defense is not where his value is coming from. If Travis is going to be a good major leaguers, he’ll have to hit. His hit tool and general ability to get good wood on the ball is his best quality, and the big reason he was a second round pick and succeeded through most of his run through the minors. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown any in-game power of his professional career. There is potential here that can still come out, and perhaps a new coaching staff can extract this from Travis, but it hasn’t been shown yet. It’s possible to succeed as a first baseman without power, too, but it generally requires an elite hit tool and/or elite defense. Travis has neither of those.

That’s not to say he should be brushed aside heading into 2018, though. Travis is still in the teams’ plans and is someone whose name you should fully expect to hear in the coming season. He likely won’t make the Opening Day roster without an injury, but if someone does go down or Hanley Ramirez struggles again, Travis could get another chance. This upcoming season is a huge one for the Indiana product. He’s still trying to prove he can be the first baseman of the future for the Red Sox, and all of a sudden he has guys like Michael Chavis and (to a lesser extent) Josh Ockimey getting closer to being major-league ready. If Travis doesn’t prove it this year, he may have waited too long.

Here’s our list so far:

  1. Jason Groome
  2. Michael Chavis
  3. Tanner Houck
  4. Bryan Mata
  5. Jalen Beeks
  6. Alex Scherff
  7. Sam Travis

Now, we move on to the eighth spot on our list. As always, head down into the comments and “rec” the comment corresponding the player for whom you’d like to vote. Make sure you’re a member of the blog before you do so of course. Additionally, if there is a player you’d like to vote for, leave a comment of your own saying “Vote for Player X here”. That comment will count as his first vote. For more information on this system, scroll to the bottom of this post. Until next time...