BOSTON—Sam Travis made a striking impression on his Arizona Fall League manager, Indians assistant coach Matt Quatraro, before his first game for Scottsdale.
“The main thing that stood out right from day one was his intensity. He wanted to win more than I expected guys to have that desire in that league,” said Quatraro. “Early on, I asked a question of the group: ‘What makes you feel good after a game if you don’t get two hits or don’t strike out two guys?’ He kind of looked at me, in front of the team, like, what are you, nuts? ‘Win the game.’”
By that measure, Travis had a lot to enjoy for a Scottsdale team that won the AFL title.
In 104 plate appearances, Travis hit .344/.394/.505 with one homer while tying for the league lead in doubles (10). Yet in a fall league setting that offers just a short sample, performance is measured less by statistics than impressions. Travis made one.
“Routinely, the other coaches would say, ‘God, he hits the ball hard.’ He does. He just squares the ball up. He has a knack for finding the barrel and using the whole field,” said Quatraro, the Indians assistant hitting coach and the Scottsdale Scorpions’ manager.
That description was in line with those that characterized Travis’ performance for high Class A Salem (.313/.378/.467) and Double-A Portland (.300/.384/.436) in 2015. His combined total of nine regular-season homers raised questions in the eyes of some evaluators about his offensive profile at first base, with the caveat that he shows significantly more raw power in batting practice. Yet even if his home run total remains capped in the low teens, Travis’ ability to square the ball and line it into the gaps along with impressive contact skills (59 walks, 77 strikeouts) suggests a potentially valuable lineup member.
“You’re probably going to be happy with his production even if it doesn’t revolve around home runs,” said Quatraro. “And I think his home run production will go up as he refines his zone a little bit.”
• The Red Sox will not have a rookie development program in 2016, because most of their top prospects have either graduated to the majors or will open the year in the lower minors.
• Bryce Brentz, out since mid-June due to thumb surgery, joined Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League in mid-December.