Red Sox first base prospect Sam Travis has played his last game at the High-A level and, whether by design or not, it was the All-Star game between the Carolina and California leagues. After Travis went 2-4 while playing the entire game at first base, the Red Sox announced that the 21-year old is on his way to Double-A Portland. Travis is clearly on the fast track to the majors after being drafted in the second round out of Indiana University. The only question is how soon it will be until he takes over the reigns as starting first baseman in Fenway Park.
Travis, an advanced hitter who dominated the college ranks in all three of his seasons at Indiana, was expected to rise quickly through the lower minors and he has done just that. Assigned to Short-Season-A Lowell after being drafted, he quickly moved up to Low-A Greenville and after just 27 games there last season, he began this year in High-A Salem. Travis didn’t get off to a great start in Salem, but since his first 14 games of the season, he has slashed a remarkable .351/.411/.515 and has brought his season line all the way back to .313/.378/.467 in 66 games.
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Most scouts credit Travis with a great approach at the plate and a solid hit tool, but the major question regarding his future is whether he’ll display enough power to stick at first base. Though he hasn’t showed huge home run power thus far (just 5 home runs in 2015), he has hit 15 doubles and it’s not crazy to think that some of those could turn into doubles as he physically develops, especially as a right-handed hitter in Fenway Park.
It’s easy to see Travis moving quickly through the organization as long as he continues to perform, as there’s little competition in the way of first basemen. Mike Napoli is in the last year of his contract and he’s slashing a meager .197/.292/.377 and there have already been rumors of the Red Sox cutting ties with him midseason.
With Napoli out of the way, the only players standing in Travis’s way are Travis Shaw and perhaps Hanley Ramirez. However, Ramirez has given no reason to think he’d be willing to move to first base, in fact saying “hell no” when a reporter asked him if he would consider a move. So, barring an external move, it appears that Travis is in line to be Boston’s first baseman of the future. And if he continues to perform in the upper minors, he could be there as soon as next season.