Sam Travis is a quick-rising prospect who started the 2016 season at Triple-A, after just 281 plate appearances at the Double-A level. A monster spring training fueled the club's decision to challenge him with the aggressive assignment, but a torn ACL cut short his season in May. He's on schedule to return during spring training. The injury shouldn't hurt defensively, as Travis was already limited to first base. Fortunately, Hanley Ramirez isn't a long-term solution, nor is Mitch Moreland (one-year deal). So, the path to MLB is clear for Travis, whose hit tool offsets a paucity of power, though he did show improvement in the area in 2016. The Chicago native hit six homers in 173 at-bats after hitting nine in all of 2015. Opponents are taking notice and developed a plan of attack against Travis, whose strikeout rate climbed to 21 percent in 2016. The injury robbed him of time to adjust, which will be a primary goal when he opens the 2017 season at Pawtucket.
Travis is 2-for-14 since returning to the Triple-A Pawtucket lineup after missing a few games following a collision with teammate Blake Swihart. Overall, Travis is hitting .156/.270/.344 with 13 strikeouts over 37 plate appearances -- a 35.1 percent strikeout rate that more than doubles his career average (15.1 percent). He's proven to be a better hitter than this during his four minor-league seasons, so improvement is expected. Travis should reach Boston this season, but the promising start of Mitch Moreland means he won't be getting there ahead of schedule.
Travis (lip) is back in the lineup for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, hitting third and playing first base. He missed the last three games due to a cut on his lower lip that required stitches. Of the Red Sox's top prospects, Travis is the only one who realistically has a chance of making an impact in the majors this season. He has 52 games under his belt at Triple-A, but would likely need to force the issue for the Red Sox to consider him before rosters expand in September.
Travis is not in the lineup for Triple-A Pawtucket's game Friday due to lingering effects from his collision with Blake Swihart on Tuesday, Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times reports. Travis and Swihart collided while pursuing a foul pop-up in Tuesday's contest, and although Swihart returned to action Friday, Travis will sit out another day to rest up. Swihart reportedly received a few stitches in his lower lip, but he's expected to be good to go in the next few days.
Travis was reassigned to minor league camp, Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports. Travis had a strong spring training, slashing .318/.400/.591/.991 with three homers, three doubles and 12 RBI in 21 spring games. It's nearly certain he'll make his debut in MLB at some point this season -- and perhaps sooner than expected, given that Hanley Ramirez has not yet played the field during spring training due to a wonky shoulder that's still hurting him when he throws.
Travis went 2-for-4 with two RBI in Tuesday's game against the Yankees. Travis had sat out one game after taking a pitch off the knee Sunday. The 23-year-old has rebounded well from knee surgery in 2016 and hasn't lost a beat at the plate. He'll start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he can continue to refine his defense, but he should reach Boston at some point this season. His path to the majors is limited to first base or DH, positions currently occupied by Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez, but a Ramirez injury doesn't so far-fetched.
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