FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Red Sox camp, it was No. 11 prospect Travis Lakins.
Though scouts viewed Lakins as a potential top-three-rounds pick heading into last year, the Draft-eligible sophomore ultimately fell to the sixth round, where the Red Sox signed him for an above-slot bonus of $320,000. The Ohio State product made his pro debut in late August in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and followed with one solid start in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League before impressing club officials with a strong showing during fall instructional league. Lakins' fastball sits at 92-94 mph, topping out at 96, and he pairs it with a mid-70s downer curveball and a changeup, giving him the potential for three average-or-better pitches. While he's somewhat undersized, Lakins projects as a starter long term thanks to his arsenal, athleticism and control profile.
MLBPipeline.com: How are you enjoying your first professional Spring Training?
Lakins: It's been really great. The Red Sox do an unbelievable job helping with everyone here. It's hard to take care of nearly 300 players a day in camp, but I think they do a wonderful job with the pitchers and hitters. They're always here and helping.
MLBPipeline.com: How do you feel your career at Ohio State prepared you for the transition to pro ball?
Lakins: Out of high school, I was a smaller kid -- maybe 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds -- but I got to college and added 20 pounds of good weight, which helped me start to throw harder and become more durable and, now, make the transition to pro ball.
MLBPipeline.com: After a long college season, the Red Sox had you throw just three innings last summer in your pro debut between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Class A Short-Season Lowell. Was it good to get your feet wet?
Lakins: Absolutely -- it felt very good to begin my career. I think I struck out my first batter [in the GCL], then I hit a guy and got a double play. I was called up to Lowell after that and made my first start there a few days later (three strikeouts in two innings), so it was nice to be able to end the regular season on a high note before heading to instructs.
MLBPipeline.com: You threw both a curveball and slider in college, but you shelved the latter upon turning pro. What was the goal in reducing your arsenal to three pitches instead of four?
Lakins: The Red Sox want me to master those three pitches first, and then maybe we can add a fourth down the road. It's actually helped me out a lot, because it makes me think about how I should attack one hitter with three pitches over the course of a full game rather than worry about trying to mix in a fourth pitch.
MLBPipeline.com: Since you first remember picking up a baseball as a kid, what is the greatest game you've ever pitched?
Lakins: I threw a perfect game -- a nine-inning perfect game -- for the Chillicothe Paints of the Prospect League the summer after my freshman year at OSU. I think I struck out 13 or 14 guys in that game, and I remember my pitch count was only a hair over 100, too.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.