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Red Sox prospects daily: What can Travis Shaw offer with Mike Napoli struggling?

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Travis Shaw got a start at first base on Tuesday in place of Mike Napoli, but that's probably not a permanent change.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox: Travis Shaw, 1B

After an 0-for-9 start to his major-league career, Travis Shaw picked up three hits -- all singles -- on Tuesday against the Marlins. It's always lovely to see someone pick up their first career hit(s), but don't read too much into it: Shaw is in the majors more out of necessity than out of any kind of readiness, and while he still might have a big-league future, it probably doesn't officially begin now.

Shaw is batting .250/.321/.362 at Triple-A Pawtucket, and while things were starting to pick up for him before the up-and-down roster shuffle that was June, we need to see more out of him before we can say with confidence that he's ready. He's still searching for that proper balance of patience and aggressiveness, and that's the key to his whole future: if Shaw can wait for the pitches he can do something with, and avoid that he cannot, he'll be in good shape. He might not be a first-division regular or anything, but he would have a future in the bigs.

shaw
Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For now, he's filling space to keep David Ortiz from playing first base every day while Mike Napoli tries to rediscover his swing. Daniel Nava will probably take Shaw's roster spot and job from him when he returns from his rehab assignment, and that's for the best. Shaw has plenty to still work through at Triple-A, so getting him back to that level where he can have regular playing time is in his and the Sox' best interests.

Double-A Portland: Kyle Martin, RHP

Kyle Martin is back after a nearly two-month absence, and while he's not back at Double-A Portland yet, he's headed there soon enough. His first appearance back on the mound came with the GCL Red Sox, where he threw a single inning with one strikeout and just one hit allowed, so don't expect his rehab assignment to take very long.

Martin is 24, and has seen his strikeouts and prospect status climb since he was drafted in the ninth round of the 2013 draft by the Red Sox. There is a very real chance that he's a big-league reliever, but he'll need more time and more success against high-minors opponents for us to know for sure. His time on the disabled list was unfortunate, but so long as he doesn't have any other interruptions in 2015, he should finish up at Double-A no problem.

High-A Salem: Ty Buttrey, RHP

Buttrey has settled in at High-A rather well, as he now has a 3.12 ERA at the level to go with over two strikeouts per walk. He's not finished with the Carolina League, not by a long shot, but considering that at this time last year he was busy being hurt and ineffective in Low-A ball, and began this season at that level again, he's doing well. Let's not forget Buttrey is just 22, as well, and was an older high school arm, so he didn't even get to full-season ball until he was already 21.

Let's not forget Buttrey is just 22, as well, and was an older high school arm

The righty now has to work on improving his strikeout numbers, as 6.5 per nine in High-A isn't going to fly long-term, especially not if he's walking three per nine. The fact he's inducing grounders 54 percent of the time is a huge help with that, of course, but better command should lead to more whiffs and grounders. Like with Trey Ball, there is still a whole lot of development to come here, but the recent signs have been positive ones.

Low-A Greenville: Jamie Callahan, RHP

You can't say the same for Jamie Callahan, who, unlike fellow 2012-draftee Buttrey, has not yet escaped Low-A Greenville. Callahan is younger, and not by just a little as he's just 20 years old and won't turn 21 until late-August, but he's also been a complete disaster on the mound. He's bumped his strikeouts up a little and dropped his walks, but his command still isn't there, and he's allowing an absurd 11.3 hits per nine on the year.

All that being said, Callahan has been much better since moving to the bullpen. He possesses a 3.46 ERA with 25 strikeouts against 12 walks in 26 innings since switching to that role, and maybe most importantly, is allowing just nine hits per nine instead of his previously inflated rates. While there are still too many moments where he's giving up too many walks or too many long hits, there is at least some progress here for the first time since he was at short-season Lowell. Given his youth, a return to starting isn't a question -- there is still time to figure out a full, workable repertoire, and to learn how to pitch to a lineup more than once.

Then again, maybe this is where Callahan belongs long-term. It's too early to say that definitively, but you can get used to the possibility. At least he's managed to thrive somewhere this season, and his possible demise as a starter is a lot easier to accept with Buttrey's revival.

GCL Red Sox: Anderson Espinoza, RHP

Anderson Espinoza handled the Dominican Summer League so well that the Sox only kept him there for 15 innings. Now, he's in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old, has 10 strikeouts against two walks, and is yet to give up a run in his three appearances and 12 innings. You don't want to get too excited, because again, he's 17, but the Venezuelan-born prize from the previous international signing period is giving you plenty to dream on in the early going.

Given his youth and the fact he's a pitcher, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in short-season Lowell next year, but maybe the Sox give him the Rafael Devers treatment and pop him in Greenville with a carefully monitored, Kopechian workload. The only thing that's clear now is why the Sox were willing to bust their international budget even before Yoan Moncada was available. It's just 27 innings, but they've been tremendous ones.