October 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM
#24: Travis Shaw, 1B
2012 Teams: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
Final Stats: .287/.397/.517, 19 HR, 80 BB, 115 K
2012 Season in Review: Travis Shaw’s season might have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the entire Red Sox minor league system. Following a relatively inconsistent stint with Lowell in 2011 in which he batted .262, Shaw’s promotion to Salem at the beginning of the 2012 season was rather aggressive. But Shaw exceeded all expectations with a .305/.411/.545 line in Salem. He was consistently near the top of the Carolina League in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. When Lars Anderson was traded to the Cleveland Indians, it catalyzed a series of promotions for first basemen throughout the system, Shaw included. Although he struggled initially, posting a line of .227/.353/.427, SoxProspects.com scout Ian Cundall noted the first baseman’s advanced approach at the plate in his scouting scratch from Portland at the end of the season. At the very least, he put himself on the radar, if not necessarily the top 20, yet.
2013 Outlook: With the departure of Adrian Gonzalez and his seven-year contract, the future of first base is one of the biggest uncertainties for the Boston Red Sox right now. James Loney has neither the bat nor the glove to satisfy the Red Sox’ needs. Mauro Gomez has certainly made a case for himself, but Shaw is next on the depth chart. Shaw advanced through the lower levels of the minor league system rather quickly, but the upper levels will present more of a challenge with their advanced pitching. If Shaw can continue to successfully adapt the way he has before, he could be an attractive option for the first baseman of the future.
#23: Mauro Gomez, 1B
2012 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: .293/.348/.506, 26 HR, 43 BB, 114 K
2012 Season in Review: When the Red Sox signed Mauro Gomez as a minor-league free agent in the off-season, they almost certainly did not expect him to have the impact that he had. Gomez was not only an International League All-Star, he was also named the International League’s Most Valuable Player. But his impact was not restricted to the minor leagues. After spending ten years in various minor league systems, Gomez finally made his Major League debut in May with Boston. Despite often being shuttled between Pawtucket and Boston due to a combination of injuries, trades, and everything in-between, Gomez made the most of his time at both locations putting up lines of .310/.371/.589 and .275/.324/.422, respectively. Gomez appeared in 37 games for the Red Sox, accumulating 102 at-bats. He even played some third base in Boston after Will Middlebrooks' season-ending injury, despite having played just 14 games there since 2006, although he did struggle to a .776 fielding percentage there.
2013 Outlook: Because first base is such a question mark for the Red Sox right now, even in the minor leagues, the Red Sox will likely renew Gomez’s contract unless the club makes a major move to shore up the position. With two options remaining, he will likely retain his spot on the 40-man roster, and may be able to compete for a spot off the bench in spring training. Gomez is certainly a powerful hitter, with potential to serve as a designated hitter, but his high strikeout rate and adequate-at-best defense raise red flags. The acquisition of Jerry Sands, a similar player who can also play left field in a pinch, may represent competition for Gomez to remain on the roster.
Photo Credit: Travis Shaw by David Letizi; Mauro Gomez by Kelly O'Connor