Red Sox

Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sam Travis is just 22, with only one full year of pro baseball to his credit.

But if Travis is feeling over-his-head in his first major league spring training camp, he has a funny way of showing it.

Travis belted a massive three-run homer in his first at-bat Thursday, continuing a spring that has seen him hit like an established veteran.

The homer was his second of the spring and he later added an infield single, giving him 13 hits in 22 at-bats (.591). He's hit safely in his last 10 Grapefruit League appearances, with 13 RBI.

"He's got lightning-quick hands and a compact swing,” gushed manager John Farrell. "I marvel at a guy who sits for two hours, then comes up (late in the game) and hits line drives. He's a gritty, hard-nosed type of player and for someone who's come into major league camp for the first time, you hope they make an impression. He's made an impression on everyone who's sat in the stands and watched games, let alone us who work with him day-in, day-out.

"He's a good-looking young player. He's done a very good job.”

A second-round pick out of Indiana University in 2014, Travis has made quick strides through the organization. He split time between High A and Double A last season, and could well make it Pawtucket during 2016. At each of his first four minor league stops, he's never failed to hit at least .290 anywhere.

Travis was named to the Arizona Fall League's Top Prospects team after leading the elite prospect league in hits, doubles and run scored.

 

While others in the organization may be rated higher -- Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers, to name two -- none is likely as close to reaching the major league level as is Travis.

Farrell cited Travis's "bat-to-ball ability” and his penchant for making hard contact.

"It's been loud outs, it's been line drives, it's been handling different types of pitches,” said Farrell. "He hit a solo homer (against Toronto) on a fastball in the mid-90s, (has handled) breaking balls that have stayed up in the zone. He squares up a lot of pitches.”

Travis is a quiet, determined sort who invests himself in preparation and has attempted to soak in as much as possible in his first camp.

"It's been a great experience, just being around these guys,” Travis said. "Some of them, I watched growing up and looked up to. You learn a lot (just watching how) they go about their business and how they carry themselves. That's part of the process for me. I'm trying to get better and I learn a lot from them, day-in, day-out.”

This spring has been an education for Travis. In college and the lower minors, pitchers aren't nearly as advanced. But facing big league pitchers, he's noticed them with more tailored approaches, using one pitch to set up another in the at-bat.

"They're more experienced with how they approach you,” said Travis. "At the same time, it's not anything I think about too much. I just go out there, play my game and stick with the same approach.”

Travis has shown good command of the strike zone and relies on his quick hands to drive the ball.

"Trust how quick you are and believe that you're not going to get beat,” he said summarizing his philosophy.

If there's one thing that he's yet to display at the pro level, it's power. He's not overly big, and given his position, a modicum of power will be expected, even necessary.

In two seasons, he's hit just 16 homers in 198 games, but believes there's more to come.

"I think the more games you play, the more at-bats, you start to figure out your swing as you mature,” he said. "I think (power) will come over time; I know it's in there, that's for sure. But I'm not going up there trying to leave the yard. If you do that, I think that's kind of a selfish at-bat.”