October 28, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#18: Travis Shaw, 1B/3B
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs
Final Stats: 554 PA, .278/.353/.473, 29 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 57 BB, 99 SO, 7 SB
Season in Review: Shaw hit just .221/.342/.394 with 16 home runs, 117 strikeouts and 78 walks at Portland a year ago, but he was able to turn things around and impressed in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. He hit .361/.452/.705 with five home runs in 61 at-bats while making some of the hardest contact recorded on the AFL's Trackman batted ball data, and the 24-year-old carried that success right into the 2014 season. Shaw showed noticeable improvements to begin the year in Portland before moving up to Triple-A at the end of May—in 47 games with the Sea Dogs, Shaw hit .305/.406/.548 in 177 at-bats. Triple-A pitching proved a tougher test for Shaw, although his Triple-A line stood at a respectable .284/.340/.477 entering August. In the final month of the regular season, he slipped to a .209/.273/.319 line, bringing his 81-game Triple-A line to .262/.321/.431. In the International League playoffs, he got off to a hot start, going 5 for 10 with two doubles, a home run, and four walks in his first three games, but slipped back into a slump over his next five, going 3 for 22 with two walks and 12 strikeouts. He did finish on a strong note, going 3 for 4 with a home run in the Triple-A Championship Game. - Alex Skillin
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: While Shaw does not have one tool that stands out, he displays a strong feel for the game and a high baseball IQ. The son of former big league pitcher Jeff Shaw, Travis looks the part of someone who grew up around the game and is a hard worker. Coming off a down season in 2013, Shaw reworked his swing heading into the Arizona Fall League, feeling that he had made adjustments in trying to adapt to Double-A that ultimately had a negative effect. He simplified his swing and took a more up-the-middle approach. Shaw saw an uptick in power and a decrease in strikeout rate this season, which can be attributed to letting the power opportunities come to him by focusing on a more gap-to-gap approach. Plate discipline is one of his strongest attributes, and he is particularly good at working deep into counts. He could be too passive at times in the past, but made progress in knowing when to be more aggressive this season.
Primarily a third baseman the first season of his minor league career, Shaw saw 12 games at the position this season, although his future is most assuredly at first. He does have a strong arm and soft hands, but his lateral range is his limiting factor defensively. Still, it is sufficient for first base, and overall, he is rounding into an above-average defender at the position. On the whole, Shaw looks to have a future in the major leagues, but whether that future will be with the Red Sox is the question. While he does not have the power potential you would like to see out of the starting first baseman on a first-division club, he does enough things well that he projects as a second-division regular for me. He will start 2015 back in Pawtucket, waiting for his opportunity. Rule 5 eligible this December, he will likely be added to the 40-man roster. - Matt Huegel
#17: Sam Travis, 1B
2014 Teams: Lowell Spinners, Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 289 PA, .316/.351/.467, 16 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 11 BB, 32 SO, 5 SB
Season in Review: The Red Sox drafted Travis in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University. In his final college season, the 21-year-old hit .347/.415/.576 for the Hoosiers, smacking 12 home runs and 16 doubles. Travis began his professional career with the Lowell Spinners and after a short adjustment period, acclimated himself quickly. Over 165 at-bats, Travis hit .333/.364/.448 with four home runs before receiving a promotion to Greenville as the calendar turned to August. The South Atlantic League was a bigger challenge for Travis, although he still held his own against stronger competition and hit for more power than he had in Lowell. In 27 games with the Drive, Travis hit .290/.330/.495, recording 15 extra-base hits in 115 plate appearances after notching just 10 in 174 trips to the plate for Lowell. - Alex Skillin
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: As a polished college bat, Travis came to the New York-Penn League and after a slow start, showed off the tools that warranted his second-round selection. During that slow start, however, Travis's struggles raised some concerns that I have for him going forward. Travis is undersized for first base, listed at 6-foot-0, 195 pounds, although he has a solid, filled out frame without much physical projection left. He is a below-average runner and has a first base-only defensive profile, although he has the potential to be a solid-average-to-better defender, showing soft hands and the ability to pick balls in the dirt well. Because of this defensive profile, Travis is going to have to hit. Travis's swing was on the long side early on with Lowell, and he struggled to turn on even average velocity. However, as Travis seemed to get more comfortable, he started putting together better at-bats. He got shorter to the ball, with a compact swing and willingness to go to all fields. He did not take many walks with Lowell, but he has knowledge of the strike zone and that will not be concerning unless it carries over to his first full season. Overall, I could see Travis developing into an average hitter, but he will be challenged against more advanced arms, especially those with plus-to-better velocity. Travis has the strength to hit for power, and showed off solid-average raw, but at times his swing did not look like one that would be conducive to generating over-the-fence power in games. Power development will be key for Travis, something I’ll be looking for in future looks as he progresses through the system. Travis has the polish and maturity to handle High-A Salem to start next season, where he is a good bet to start after getting more than 100 at-bats in Low-A to end the season. - Ian Cundall
Additional editorial support provided by Norm Cimon.
Photo credit: Both by Kelly O'Connor.