MLB.com continued to release their top prospects by position on Friday, unveiling their Top 10 first base prospects with the inclusion of Travis Shaw at #8 on the list. Jonathan Singleton of the Houston Astros came in atop the surprisingly shallow list.
Here’s what they had to say about Shaw:
The son of former All Star reliever Jeff Shaw had a breakthrough 2012 season but struggled in Double-A last year. He got back on track by hitting .361 with five homers in 17 Arizona Fall League games and he has consistently demonstrated an ability to hit for power and draw walks. If Shaw can curb a tendency to get homer-conscious, which reared its head in 2013, he could hit for a decent average as well.
Shaw’s inclusion in the list appears a little surprising at first and perhaps there is reason why. The 9th Round pick in the 2011 Draft has produced respectable numbers in his brief minor league career, but there’s little that he does that truly causes him to stand out. He’s a career .256/.371/.455 hitter against arguably weaker pitching and he’s been prone to strikeout too frequently. He’s hardly even among the team’s top prospects, coming in at #42 on SoxProspect.com’s current rankings.
He’s been invited to attend Spring Training with the Red Sox, but ultimately Shaw appears heading to Double-A for the 2014 season.
Including Shaw among the top first base prospects in the game is ultimately more telling about the future at the position than it is about Shaw’s future development. Beyond Singleton and Dominic Smith most of the other players on the list will hardly come close to the top of their team’s respective top prospect lists. Most teams, in fact, have “first basemen of the future” within their system who are currently not even playing first base. Many are catchers, third basemen, or corner outfielders by trade and their respective teams will continue to play them at those positions until they simply cannot anymore. Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco, for example, may have checked in at the top of this list but he’s still viewed as a third baseman for the time being.
Shaw might not be the team’s future answer at first base, but his appearance on this list shouldn’t be completed discounted. He still could develop into a solid player within the organization and will be in need of a solid 2014 season to continue that traction. For now he’ll focus on mastering Double-A, avoiding the strikeouts, and hoping to make an impact in Boston down the line.