“OMG, seriously Ralph, could you be more of a SAWX homeah? Your first player profile of the season is Sam Travis? What’s next 20,000 words on the benefits of Travis Shaw?” That’s all of you non-nation members upon seeing that I chose to dig deep on the up and coming Red Sox first baseman, but I feel it’s an appropriate time on the heels of his spring training performance that’s drawn rave reviews, and pumped a bit of helium into his prospect status. After all outside of the actual skill set Travis possess three qualities that I find endearing in all ballplayers. 1) He doesn’t wear batting gloves, leaving me to wonder if he urinates on his hands Moses Alou style to make them strong like bull. 2) He has two first names, making his name easy to pronounce and without need for fine-tooth comb spell checking. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Travis, you done well. Third and most important for our purposes (insert Grey dolphin joke here) he’s an up and coming corner infielder with some boom-boom. As I’ve said on many occasions over the off-season the upper minors are devoid of impact corner bats. So it’s important us dynasty leaguers try our best to horde them before someone else swoops in and does the same. So let’s take a look at Sam Travis, for 2016 Fantasy Baseball (SEO sleeper hold)
Sam Travis, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 559 PA, .307/.381/.452, 9 HR, 19 SB, 11% BB, 14% K
Whether or not he’s “the next Paul Goldschmidt”, I’m not really sure. The one thing on Travis of which I am certain is he’s hit no matter where he’s played. In 2011, after being named the Illinois player of the year by the Chicago tribune, the Chi-raq native was drafted in the 40th round of the 2011 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Instead of signing Travis chose the University of Indiana, where he proceeded to win the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the year award. He continued to impress that summer in the Cape Cod league with Dennis-Yarmouth hitting .339 with a .415 OBP, 12 doubles, 4 homers, 35 RBI’s, and earning All-League honors at first. He then followed that up with a monster 2013 at Indiana that led to him winning the Big Ten most outstanding player of the year award. Throughout his amateur and professional career Travis has shown advanced plate discipline, approach, and contact. Across three levels in 2015 Travis walked nearly as much as he struck out (13.7 K% to 10.5% BB%), while slashing .307/.381/.452, with 9 homers and 78 RBIs. Buried behind a stable full of top prospects in the flush Boston system, Travis made headlines over the past two months after hitting .536 with a 1.305 OPS in 28 spring at bats. He easily had the best spring of any of the Sox much ballyhooed prospects, and looks in line to see time in the upper levels of the Sox system, with a shot at supplanting Hanley Ramirez (or Travis Shaw) as the Sox everyday first baseman in 2017. The one question mark surrounding Travis’ game at this point is the ability to hit for power, as his ISO’s been mediocre so far in his professional career.
Here’s how my predecessor Prospector Mike described him in the Red Sox Minor League Preview. “Travis isn’t a well known prospect, but he can hit and hit for some power. The ceiling isn’t going to be more than 20 dingers, and that limits his upside as a first baseman in shallower leagues. But he has good plate discipline and could be an asset in deepish OBP formats. Travis got some reps in the AFL and should see Triple-A and maybe even a cup of coffee at some point this year.”
Not much different from what I wrote above, does that mean we have a consensus? Perhaps, but we have the additional hindsight of the monstrous spring, and the recent Goldy hyperbole that hit the web Monday via Jon Hayman. Now do I think he’s the next Paul Goldschmidt? No, oh hell no, Goldy is the top corner infielder in the game and a top 3 player in both reality and fantasy. Travis as good as he may be does own that sort of ceiling. With that said, I see no reason why he couldn’t be in the top 10 at the position, and maybe top 5 eventually but expecting a top 10 overall player is quite simply ludicrous. (By the by, am I the only one that wants to spell it Ludacris?) What I do expect to happen is Hanley will be Hanley, show flashes, ultimately crap out with injury, attitude, or ineffectiveness, leaving the door open in late July/early August for a “hopefully” scorching hot Travis to come up and takeover the everyday first base duties. From there, Travis showcases his top notch OBP skills and professionalism, and saves the Royal Rooters from another full season of the pain caused by depending on Hanley.
Conclusion: Excellent grab and stash for dynasty owners looking to add an up and coming corner bat with upside in a projected excellent hitting environment.