Red Sox fans have been clamoring for one of the organization’s top prospects to be called up for the better part of a month. Well, they’re sort of getting their wish. Rafael Devers is still a little ways away from the majors, but we’ll be getting a nice consolation prize with Sam Travis’ promotion to the majors. The move was announced on Tuesday, and Hector Velazquez will be optioned to Pawtucket as a corresponding move on the active roster.
Red Sox announce Sam Travis is coming up. Velazquez sent down.— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) May 23, 2017
Now, let’s get this out of the way first. No, Travis cannot play third base. What he can do, though, is provide a right-handed option at first base, something the team has been lacking with Hanley Ramirez’ inability to play the position thus far.
You’ve almost certainly heard of Travis, as he’s set the Grapefruit League on fire in each of the last two springs. Last year, he was not able to make good on that spring performance after missing most of the season with a knee injury. Healthy again this year, he has hit well in Pawtucket to start the season. In 139 plate appearances, the 2014 second-round pick is hitting .286/.353/.452 against Triple-A competition.
If Travis is going to excel in his first taste of major-league competition, it is going to be because of his hit tool. It is the best part of his game, and when he’s going he will be able to hit plenty of line drives and extra base hits in the gap. He has shown just a modest ability to draw walks in the minors, but cancels that out with his contact skills. The biggest question mark for the 23-year-old is whether or not his power will play up in games. There is potential in that area — and he’s shown it in spring training — but it hasn’t quite carried over in the regular season at any level. At least, it hasn’t carried over in the way you’d hope from a first baseman.
If you’ll recall, the Red Sox recently placed Steven Wright on the 60-day disabled list on the same day they designated Chase d’Arnaud for assignment, with Velazquez’ promotion to the majors being the only corresponding move on the 40-man roster. With that being the case, there doesn’t need to be another move to clear a spot for Travis.
It’s unclear when Travis will actually make his major-league debut, but with left-handed pitcher Martin Perez expected to take the mound for the Rangers on Wednesday night, that is probably a good guess for the date.
With Velazquez getting sent down, it also means the Red Sox will need to make another roster move later in the week to find a starter for Friday night’s game against Seattle. The most likely choice is still Brian Johnson, and with the team currently carrying eight relievers Travis should be able to survive that move.