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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three Sleeper Boston Red Sox Prospects for 2016

The Boston Red Sox enter the 2016 season with a revamped major league roster, having landed some significant talent this past offseason. At the same time they have been able to maintain a well-stocked farm system that no less an authority than Baseball America has ranked as fourth-best in baseball this year. While many will be familiar with some of their better known prospects, their young talent pool is so deep that there are many who have largely flown under the radar thus far in their young careers but may start to get more recognition.

Here are just a few of the Red Sox prospects who haven’t gotten nearly as much press as some others in the system but may see that change in a major way in 2016.

Sam Travis, First Base: A second-round pick in 2014, the right-handed hitter formed a collegiate version of the Bash Brothers with Indiana University teammate Kyle Schwarber before both were drafted in the early going two years ago. Not a classic slugger, Travis is better described as a professional hitter. He has already played at four different levels in his first two years, reaching as high as Double-A mid-way through last season. In 198 professional games, he has combined to hit .310 with 16 home runs, 122 RBIs and a .371 OBP.

His rise to prominence may have already begun, as he has been the star of Boston’s camp, hitting better than .500 this spring and looking more like a seasoned veteran than the 22-year-old that he is. Unfortunately, there’s virtually no chance that he will start the season in the majors, given the depth in front of him. However, if he continues his impressive and consistent production, it won’t be long before he forces his way into the conversation for a promotion to Boston.

Luis Alexander Basabe, Outfield: The Red Sox have a potential four-tool player in the switch hitter. Signed for $450,000 out of Venezuela in 2012 as a 16-year-old, he has understandably been eased along in his first three professional seasons. He spent all of 2015 with the short season Lowell Spinners and although he didn’t turn 19 until the final weeks of the season, he hit .243 with seven home runs, 23 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 56 games. Most impressively, he also drew 32 walks, which is a great sign for a player that young.

In addition to his power and speed, Basabe is a strong defender with a good arm in center field. The major hole in his game is his ability to make contact, as he struck out 67 times last year and has 184 whiffs in his 831 professional plate appearances. He still has a ways to go in his development, so it’s entirely possible he can improve in this regard, but even if he doesn’t he has enough skills to translate into him being a very valuable player.

Travis Lakins, Pitcher: Following his career at Ohio State, the left-hander was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Although he debuted last year, fans don’t have much to go on when scouting the stat line, as he only made a lone appearance for Lowell, striking out three of the seven batters he faced in his two-inning stint (he walked a batter but did not allow a hit).

Scouting reports indicate Lakins, who will turn 22 in July, throws a low-90s fastball and has a changeup and curveball that could become above average offerings. With the potential for three average to above average pitches, his future appears to be in the rotation. It’s not clear where he will start this year in the minors, but wherever it is, his college polish makes it likely that he could see a promotion or two during the year if he produces the way many expect.

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