The sudden decline of Red Sox prospect Sam Travis

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne

Sam Travis showed some excellent power in spring training and eventually, a roster decision sent the prize prospect to Pawtucket. Travis’ hitting has suddenly taken a negative turn.

There is good and bad news with Sam Travis as his prospect stock may be in decline. The good news is Travis is just 24-year-old and certainly has the time to rectify his performance – and performance is the bad news. Travis is hitting just .217 with Pawtucket (AAA).

Travis also missed some playing time this season with a visit to the disabled list and prior to that was hovering in the .300 range. Travis despite his physical presence is not considered a contender for any home run titles. Travis has never exceeded nine home runs in a season while in minor league servitude, but there is an addendum to that.

In spring training Travis found power – lots of power with six home runs.  Travis also hit .270 and had 17 RBI. If this was done in the spring with about 20 other teams Travis would have been on an MLB roster. So why is Travis in a hitting funk?  In 2017 Travis hit .270 with Pawtucket and a respectable .263 in 33 games with Boston. Promising and a potential trade chip or even a roster spot.

Travis is a polished right-handed hitter with a steady approach. He recognizes pitches and manages the strike zone well, producing hard line-drive contact from gap to gap. His raw power is evident in batting practice and he has 20-homer upside, though he’d have to add some loft to his swing and take a more aggressive approach to get there and better fit the standard first-base profile. – MLB Prospect Watch

Comparing Travis to last season with the PawSox a few items do stand out.  One is a now 33.6 K% compared to 16.7 K% this season. The second is the corresponding walk situation with a 6.0 BB% versus 10.8 BB% in 2017. Looking at the scouting snippet maybe the pitch recognition is limited?  I have a tendency to dismiss that based on Travis’ experience level.

I cannot dismiss a top-ranked prospect suddenly losing hitting ability or just stalling with no progress.  A career dead-end. Just think of Lars Anderson who I thought would be far more productive than Anthony Rizzo. So much for my scouting ability. But Travis just has some very respectable hitting ability that should translate to the MLB level somewhere.

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Travis will continue to start at Pawtucket since their main focus is development. Travis may not be completely healthy since the injury that placed him on the DL is one I am quite familiar with – an intercostal muscle strain. Prior to the injury Travis was in all probably attempting to play through it. Now? The injury can linger like a bad debt on a credit report. Pitchers sense something is not right with a hitter and exploit it.

I expect – I am questionable on predictions – that Travis will eventually be healthy and when that happens his batting average will also be healthy. Travis will be a valuable player somewhere.

 

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About Rick McNair

Born in Boston and have lived in the area all my life but not as a Red Sox fan. My first game was actually at Braves Field where I saw a very young Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves left and I quickly switched loyalties. I enjoy discussing the Red Sox past and the connection of that past to the present. I will often bring in remembrances of that into posts. As a retired teacher I have the time to occasional travel to foreign baseball soil and love meeting up with other fans of RSN on the road. I am also a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) - a dwindling breed in Massachusetts.
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