Spring training is always a time of hope. It’s before the games matter, the records are counted, or failure is considered a true concern. It’s also a time to get a glimpse into the future, and for the Boston Red Sox, that future is looking brighter than ever.
With prospects such as international signee from Cuba, Yoan Moncada, and last year’s first round draft pick Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox have no shortage of talent in the farm system. However, overlooked after coming on strong last season is a first base prospect buried behind layers of depth in Sam Travis.
If a .536 batting average in spring training doesn’t impress, an OPS of 1.350, two home runs and 13 RBI in that stretch should say something as well. Not to mention, the 22 year old Travis did not play beyond Double A last season.
Between Salem and Portland last season, Travis hit .307 with a .381 OBP and nine round trippers, not to mention a .338 average in the Arizona Fall League. Projected to start this season in Pawtucket after the Red Sox demoted him yesterday afternoon as one of the latest cuts.
The road blocks for Travis to the show are massive. Hanley Ramirez is slated to be the first baseman at least in 2016, but Travis would likely not be ready for the leap this season anyways. Where it gets difficult is 2017, when Ramirez is projected to become the designated hitter with the retirement of David Ortiz.
With Ramirez slid over, Travis would still have to get past Travis Shaw, swinging an equally hot bat in spring training and three years older. Shaw could play third base, but that would mean the Sox would have to find a way to move Pablo Sandoval.
Not to mention, Yoan Moncada, who will likely play third base, is as on a equally fast track to the majors as Travis.
The 6’0 195 lbs first baseman was originally a second round pick out of the University of Indiana in 2014 where he hit .347 in his third and final season with the Hoosiers with a .991 OPS. Undersized for a first baseman, Travis has never hit more than 12 home runs in a season at any level. However, Travis has strong line drive ability and has always hit around .300.
Contact is the best skillset for Travis, which is more than enough despite the perception of first base needing to be a power position. If he’s hitting at or around .300, there won’t be many complaints about his power.
Travis will start this season at the Triple A level, but his progression has accelerated beyond what was expected. Now he will have a chance to prove it at the minor league level before he gets his shot in Boston.