Who Is Sam Travis?

Sometime mid-afternoon yesterday, the Red Sox announced that they called up prospect Sam Travis. Travis, a right-handed first baseman taken out of Indiana University in the second round of the 2014 draft, is listed as the team’s third-highest ranked prospect by To compare, had him ranked as the 6th-best prospect in 2016, and 17th-best the year before. Calling up a top-prospect like Travis is notable for any team, but it’d be foolish not to acknowledge that at least some of the expectations for him are probably unrealistic -Travis’ ascension to top-3 prospect benefited greatly from Dave Dombrowski’s, um, enthusiastic trade approach last offseason. Still, teams calling up top prospects is one of the most fun and exciting aspects of the game, and it’ll be fascinating to see how a young talent like Travis will have an impact on a talented but underachieving squad. Here’s the book on Sam Travis, just another example on the ever-growing list of Red Sox players with two first names.

He’s a very Red Sox-y hitter.

You take a look at Travis’ numbers and you see exactly why the Red Sox drafted him. This year, Travis’ BB% (9.4) mirrors the average of the 2017 Red Sox (9.1) almost perfectly. The strikeouts aren’t far off either, with Travis’ K% (17.3) being a hair lower than the 2017 Sox average (19.5). While that’s most likely nothing more than a very convenient coincidence, it highlights the low-strikeout, high-walk plate approach the team has loved so much over the last decade or so.  Here’s a fun fact: every Red Sox player with at least 100 PAs has 1. a higher BB% than league average (8.8) and 2. all but two (Moreland, JBJ) with 100 PAs have a K% below league average. They make contact and see a lot of pitches, two things that Travis has always done well in the minors.

The Red Sox suddenly need first baseman depth.

Suddenly might be the wrong word here, seeing as Hanley Ramirez has played exactly one (1) game at first base this year. Hanley apparently has lingering shoulder issues that prevent him from playing the field, or has just realized that DH-ing is a pretty dope gig. Either way, Mitch Moreland needs to sleep eventually, so this is where we find ourselves. The general consensus seems to be he’ll be the platoon guy the team envisioned Ramirez being, only now we don’t have to sit around and play that awkward game where we pretend we’re waiting for Hanley to be healthy enough to play first again. Everyone’s happier this way.

He could (theoretically) help with the power issues.

Through two months, the 2017 Red Sox have a .141 ISO (26th in MLB), a .408 SLG (20th in MLB) and have hit 38 home runs (29th in MLB). Weirdly enough, though, (like we pointed out earlier this week) the Sox are an hitting the ball at an elite level. Through his three years in the minors, Travis has put up pretty decent power numbers, posting an ISO over .140 (what’s roughly considered an average hitter) each season, and at least once at every level besides Double-A (.136 there, though). He also puts up a SLG in the mid-to-high .400’s along his various minor league stops. Aaron Judge he is not, but the Red Sox could use all the power help they can get.

Photo by Jasen Vinlove – USA TODAY Sports

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