In the past month, there have been changes within the Red Sox organization both on the field (i.e. trades and players designated for assignment) and in the front office (hiring of a new president of baseball operations). So now with the team essentially out of the playoff run, the Red Sox will be looking to audition their young talent at certain positions on the field. One of those positions is first base where you now see the Red Sox using long time prospect and minor leaguer Travis Shaw to fill in.
However with all that going on in the major league level, in the farm system there is a buzz going around about a young first baseman in the minor leagues who has risen through the ranks in almost record breaking time. He was just drafted last year, beginning in Short Season-A Lowell, and in one year has made it all the to Double-A Portland and has been a dominating bat within the Sea Dog’s lineup. That first baseman is the young and up-and-coming Sam Travis.
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Full Name: Samuel John Travis
Born: August 27, 1993
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Height: 6' 0"
School: University of Indiana
Acquired: Drafted in 2nd round (26th overall in round/67th overall) in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft
Background Prior to 2015
Sam Travis was originally drafted back in the 2009 MLB Draft at the 24th spot in the 40th round (1225th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds out of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Illinois. However Johnson elected not to sign with the Reds and instead went to school at the University of Indiana. In three years with the Hoosiers, Travis played in a total of 184 collegiate games, had a career batting average of .327 (236-of-721) with a career total of 149 runs scored, 31 home runs, and 165 RBIs. Travis also had career OPS of .410, a career SLG of .544, and a career OPS of .954. Travis’ college career also included a two trips to the College World Series in 2013 & 2014 and being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012 and the 2013 Big Ten Most Outstanding Player of the Year.
During his time with the Indiana Hoosiers. Travis also participated with the Team USA Collegiate team during his sophomore year in 2013. Travis started in 16 of 19 games played, hitting for an average of .222 (12-for-54) with 1 home run, 17 RBIs, 9 runs scored, an OBP of .306, SLG of .315, and OPS of .621. Aside for playing in college baseball, Travis also played one year in the Cape Cod in 2012 with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. In 44 regular season games, Travis hit .339 (57-for-168) with 4 home runs, 35 RBIs, 20 walks, 5 stolen bases, had an OBP of .415, a SLG of .482, and an OPS of .897. Travis was also named to the 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star to play for the East Team and played in the Cape Cod League Playoffs with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, hitting .222 (4-for-18) with just 2 RBIs and 4 walks in 5 games.
After being drafted and signing with the Boston Red Sox, Travis began his professional career in Class Short-Season A with the Lowell Spinners of the New-York Pennsylvania League. In 40 games with the Spinners, Travis hit for .333 (55-for-165) with 4 home runs, 30 RBIs, 28 total runs scored, 5 stolen bases, and had an OBP of .364, SLG of .448, and OPS of .813. Travis also played in 33 games at first base, recording a .980 fielding percentage (289-of-295 fielding chances) with 6 errors and assisted on 21 double plays.
Then on August 1, Travis was promoted to Class A to play with the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League and finished his 2014 with the team. In 27 games with the Drive, Travis had a batting line of .303/.370/.442/.812 (batting average/OBP/SLG/OPS) with 3 home runs, 14 RBIs, 12 runs scored, and 7 walks. He also played 23 games at first base with the Drive, recording a .989 fielding percentage (186-of-188 fielding chances) with 2 errors and assisted on 18 double plays.
Between Lowell and Greenville, Travis played in 67 total games, had a batting line of .316/.351/.467/.818 with 7 home runs, 44 RBIs, 40 runs scored, 5 stolen bases, and drew 11 walks. He also played in a total of 56 games at first base, obtaining a .983 fielding percentage (475-of-483 fielding chances) with 8 total errors and assisted on a total of 39 double plays.
Prior to the beginning of the 2015, Travis was ranked as the 12th overall prospect according to MLB.com and the 17th overall prospect according to SoxProspects.com in the Red Sox farm system. He began the 2015 season in Class High-A with the Salem Drive of the Carolina League. In 68 games with the Drive, Travis had a batting line of .313/.378/.467/.845 with 5 home runs, 40 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, and drew 26 walks. Travis also played 46 games at first base, recording a .993 fielding percentage (423 out of 426 .Because of his success in Single-A, Travis was named a 2015 Carolina League All-Star.
Then this past June 24, Travis was promoted to Double-A to the Portland Sea Dogs of the Eastern League. Currently after 53 games with the Sea Dogs, Travis’ batting line is .290/.363/.415/.778 with 3 home runs, 28 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 6 stolen bases, and 23 walks. In the field, Travis has been playing 51 games out of the 53 games at first base (in 2 games, he was the DH). He recorded a fielding percentage of .996 (478-of-480 fielding chances) with 2 errors and assisted on 2 double plays.
For most minor league players, it usually takes a couple of years to travel up from Short-Season A just to get into Advanced A alone and perhaps another year to get into Double-A. Travis has already made it up into Double-A from Short-Season A in a year. This is mostly due in part with his hitting power and ability. When you look at film, you see that Travis has keen plate vision and doesn’t swing wildly at pitches out of the zone. The knock on him that most scouts point out is his size (6’0”) and feel that would hamper his ability to put power into his swings. However Travis has a fluid swinging motion that accelerates his hitting power and allows his bat to have solid contact with the ball to make line drives into the outfield or even home run potential.
On the defensive side of the ball, he has a good awareness of the direction of where the ball is coming from down the first base line. Plus he has a good ability of being able to dig balls out of the dirt combined with ‘soft hands’ that will allow him to grasp and field the ball when it’s coming at him via a throw or a base hit.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Travis up in Pawtucket at the Triple-A level given how fast his stock has risen in just one year. However the Red Sox currently have a first base prospect, Travis Shaw, up in Boston right now showcasing his abilities to the team’s new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. So for now Travis will probably go no higher than the Triple-A level for a while barring injury or trade. However if he puts on a good showing down in Pawtucket, don’t be too surprised to see this young first baseman standing on the first base bag in Fenway while the Boston Red Sox take to the field.
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