The power potential in Sam Travis’s 6-foot, 195-pound frame was obvious to the Red Sox when they took him with their second-round pick in the June draft.
He mashed in high school in New Lenox, Ill., hitting 17 homers and driving in 75 runs as a senior.
He punished the ball for three years at the University of Indiana, where he hit .327 with 31 homers and 165 RBIs in 184 games; in his sophomore season, he hit .316 with 10 homers and 57 RBIs while playing with a broken hamate bone.
But those numbers, he said, aren’t so much about sheer strength as they are about a consistent and simple approach at the plate.
“I’m not really going up there as the ‘power guy,’ ” the 20-year-old first baseman said. “I’m going to take my base hit, take my sac fly, get the runner over to third base, get the runner in. That’s all part of the game.”
The deep balls and extra-base hits to the alleys will be there, but they’ll simply be a byproduct of taking the same plan to the plate every time.
“Obviously, I’m going to hit my fair share of home runs and doubles,” Travis said. “But those are going to be accidents. You’ve just got to go up there, try to hit the ball hard and make things happen.”
He has been a human torch since starting his professional career.
In 40 games with the short-season Lowell Spinners, he hit .333 with 4 homers, 5 doubles, a triple, and 30 RBIs, and quickly earned a bump up to Single A Greenville.
In his debut with the Drive on Aug. 2, he went 3 for 4 — his first of four multihit games this month. He entered Thursday hitting .318 with Greenville, with 5 doubles, a homer and 5 RBIs in 11 games.
In June, he was facing NCAA pitching. In July, it was the New York-Penn League. Now it’s the South Atlantic League. But just because he’s changed levels doesn’t mean he’s changed his approach to the game.
“I feel like sometimes I don’t even realize the competition I’m playing against,” Travis said. “I’m just going out there just playing my game, just having fun and just trying to win and most of all just having fun.
“Obviously there’s different situations, there’s different pitchers that you’re going to have to make minor adjustments on, but that’s all a part of the game. That’s why people who are successful at this game, they’ve got the right mentality and the right attitude and they can make adjustments.”
His only struggle in the minors has been a 2-for-17 start at Lowell.
Over the next 10 games, Travis hit .381 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
“When I’m struggling, I’m a guy that realizes — that’s baseball,” Travis said. “It’s a game of failure and it’s going to turn around. In order to succeed, you have to fail at some point. So that’s how I go about it. I just know it’s always going to come around.”
As much as the Red Sox organization values his righthanded power, Travis is focusing on his all-around game, which means working to become a better defensive first baseman. He has made eight errors this year, six at Lowell and two at Greenville.
Each game is a learning process.
“I’m learning new things every day,” Travis said. “The big thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to go into every day with the right attitude.
“Obviously, it’s your job now, you can’t go in with any kind of attitude. You’ve got to remember that you’re playing the game, games are supposed to be fun, and if you go into it with a good attitude, then you’re going to get the most out of it.”
Three to watch
■ Garin Cecchini, Pawtucket: The 23-year-old third baseman/outfielder never doubted he’d work out of a brutal midseason funk, and in his last five games entering Thursday, he hit .476 (10 for 21) with a homer, 3 doubles, and 8 RBIs.
■ Carlos Asuaje, Salem: For all the moving around he’s done in the field this year, the 22-year-old infielder/outfielder has been consistent at the plate, hitting .308 with 15 homers and 89 RBIs with a ridiculous .378/.410/.730 slash line over his previous eight games entering Thursday.
■ Manuel Margot, Greenville: August has been all about stacking up hits for the 19-year-old outfielder. Through Wednesday he was hitting .462 for the month with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 10 RBIs, and eight multihit games.
Couch sitting pretty
After a two-game rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League, Portland righthander Keith Couch made his first Double A start last Saturday since going on the disabled list in June with a sore elbow. He went 4⅔ innings (no earned runs) in the Sea Dogs’ 12-7 win over Richmond. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 of 16 starts this season . . . Sean Coyle has put together a strong season for Portland this year after missing significant time last season with a knee injury, hitting .309 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in 85 games. But he ran into another hitch last week, spraining his ankle trying to beat out an infield single and landing on the disabled list Aug. 9 . . . Lefthander Edwin Escobar had another strong outing for Pawtucket Wednesday, giving up just two runs and striking out six over seven innings in a 4-3 win over Gwinnett. In three starts for the PawSox, he has struck out 16 while walking only four.