Sam Travis, the Red Sox’s first baseman of the future, was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Travis made his MLB debut Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The Red Sox hope Travis will provide a spark to an offense that ranks ninth in the American League in runs scored.
The Red Sox plan to hit Travis against left-handed starters, while veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland will start against right-handed pitchers. Entering Tuesday, the Red Sox have hit only four home runs this season against lefties, fewest in the majors, according to ESPN. They have a .718 OPS against lefties.
Travis goes by the nickname “Doctor Chill” and has already earned some praise for his old-school, sans batting gloves approach at the plate.
Here’s what you need to know about Travis:
1. Travis Made His First MLB Start on May 24, 2017
Travis, 23, was called up by the Red Sox before their game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, and got his first start Wednesday, against Martin Perez. He batted seventh in the order and played first base.
Travis recorded a hit in his second Major League at-bat and singled and scored in his third at-bat. He finished his debut going 2 for 4.
Travis told ESPN that his family was in attendance for his debut:
“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Travis. “Something you’ve been working for your whole life. It’s pretty amazing. I can’t put it into words. I’m just here to help the team win.”
2. Travis Was Tearing Up Triple-A Pitching
Travis’ performance in Triple-A with the Pawtucket Red Sox, combined with a shoulder-injury to Hanley Ramirez, which has changed the teams’ plans to platoon Ramirez and Moreland at first base, prompted the club to bring Travis up earlier than expected.
For the season, Travis is batting .286 with four home runs, 14 RBIs, .353 OBP and a .805 OPS. Travis, rebounding from a knee-injury that cut his 2016 season short, got off to a slow start, but has been on a hot-streak as of late. In his last 23 games, he is batting .344 with six doubles, three home runs and a .909 OPS, according to ESPN.
In 2016, at the age of 22, Travis hit .286 with six home runs, 29 RBIs and a .805 OPS in 47 games for Pawtucket, before a torn ACL ended his season. His 29 RBIs were the most in the league at the time.
Travis had a very good spring training in 2016, batting .536 with 2 home runs, and a team-leading 13 RBIs in 28 at-bats.
3. Travis Is a Top 100 Prospect
The Red Sox selected Travis in the second round with the 67th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. He signed for $846,800.
Travis split time between Low-A and Single-A his first year in the Red Sox’s organization. He batted .316 with 7 home runs, 44 RBIs, .818 OPS and 5 stolen bases in 289 at-bats. In 2015, between Boston’s High-A and Double-A squads, Travis batted .307 with 9 home runs, 78 RBIs, a .833 OPS and 19 stolen bases.
Travis was rated as the Red Sox’s fourth-best prospect and the No. 98 prospect in baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law, according to ESPN.
Travis was ranked in the top-10 first base prospects by MLB Pipeline.
4. Travis Was Teammates with Kyle Schwarber at Indiana University
Travis and Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber both played their college baseball for the Indiana Hoosiers. The two led the Hoosiers to their first College World Series in 2013 and consecutive Big Ten Conference regular-season and tournament titles in 2013 and 2014.
In 2014, Travis won the Big Ten player of the year award. That season he helped the 18th-ranked Hoosiers win the Big Ten regular season title. Travis led the league that year in home runs, RBIs, hits and total bases, according to the Chicago Tribune. Travis’ .357 batting average was third in the league, and he did not commit an error all season at first base.
Travis also was also named Big Ten freshman of the year in 2012.
5. Travis Played For Team USA
In 2013, Travis and Schwarber were also teammates on Team USA’s Collegiate National Team. Other notable players on the roster include Washinton’s Trea Turner, N.Y Mets’ Michael Conforto, Houston’s Alex Bregman, and Cincinnati’s Brandon Finnegan.
The team finished with a record of 20-3.
Schwarber and Travis also shared the unfortunate coincidence of tearing their ACL’s around the same time. Travis said that seeing Schwarber come back from his injury in time to play in the 2016 World Series was an inspiration for him.
“It actually worked out that I had someone to talk to about it like him, and it was great to see what he did in the World Series,” said Travis. “I was super jacked up for him. He’s a great friend of mine, so I wanted to see him do well and it was a lot of fun to watch him.”