Red Sox first base prospect Sam Travis will be the real deal
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox future at first base we have seen with Sam Travis. Travis will find his way back to the big leagues and for a very long time.
“I’ll be back” are the iconic words spoken by “The Terminator.” The same applies to Boston Red Sox prospect Sam Travis after his recent dipping of his baseball cleats into the major league pool. The very small sample was a pleasant surprise as the 23-year-old right-handed hitter went 6-17.
The tale of Travis is rather well-worn with a ledger that shows success at every level. Physically Travis appears to be a slightly smaller version of Billy Butler and, like Butler, Travis can hit the ball with some very nice authority. The one negative – is Travis is not a home run hitter despite having the physical appearance of one.
Travis has some healthy gap power and the home runs will come, but do not expect Jimmie Foxx. What Travis does have is plate discipline and the potential for hitting MLB pitching in the .300 range. Travis also has the scouting notation of being an “average” defender – average is certainly acceptable if you can it .300.
"Travis is a polished right-handed hitter who lets his power come naturally rather than worrying about homers. He recognizes pitches, controls the strike zone and makes loud contact from gap to gap. He has the bat speed and strength to hit 20 or more homers per season if he were to adopt a more aggressive approach, which he may have to do to fit the first-base profile. – MLB Prospect Watch"
Travis started slowly at Pawtucket this season and some may be attributed to a serious knee injury that ended his 2016 season. That set in motion other changes that may not have happened if Travis had a full season of Triple-A experience – most notably the signing of Mitch Moreland.
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Moreland is on the books for just this season and is performing better than expected. A stable and consistent MLB commodity with a glove that goes well beyond average. Moreland will most certainly be trolling for a bigger payday and a contract that goes beyond one and done. My assumption is that Travis becomes the latest addition to the younger prospects the Red Sox have filtered into their lineup.
What can certainly put a damper on that is Dave Dombrowski, who is prone to ship out prospects of promise without any hesitation. The further crumbling of the rotations or the desire for glorious home run punch could make Travis expendable, but let’s assume that will not happen.
The Red Sox need help at third, but the Red Sox will leave Travis alone in that situation despite his college experience at the hot corner. Boston will continue to go with no-hit Deven Marrero and no-field Pablo Sandoval. Travis will be at Pawtucket awaiting his call. Injury or dire circumstance could mean a return trip up I-95 this season. In the it’s too bad scenario, if Travis had played third in the minors with some degree of competency he would be there right now.
"While Travis played some third base as an amateur, his below-average speed and fringy arm strength relegate him to first base as a pro. His soft hands and work ethic make him an average defender, and he might be passable in left field (though Boston’s outfield is loaded). He could turn into a player similar to Kevin Youkilis with fewer walks. – MLB Prospect Watch"
I fully expect Travis to be the Red Sox first baseman in 2018. Moreland will be passed by and forget Hanley Ramirez as he will be at designated hitter until his burdensome contract is off the balance sheet. Travis will be “The Man” and I will predict a very nice 2018 season for Travis.
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The Travis we will see in the next five years will not steal bases, make bullet throws, be a Gold Glove winner or hit 30+ home runs. What Boston will have is a consistent .300 range hitter who will hit smoking line drives. Fans will salivate with Travis up in key situations since he will not force the issue, will wait for his pitch and will undoubtedly make contact.
From my view Travis is the real deal.