Red Sox call up first-baseman and top prospect Sam Travis

Mar 6, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Sam Travis (59) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Sam Travis (59) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sam Travis‘ long-awaited journey to the major leagues is now complete. The Boston Red Sox have called up the first baseman prior to Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers.

Ahead of their series opener against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox recalled 23-year old first baseman, Sam Travis.

In a corresponding move, the club optioned right-handed pitcher Hector Velazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket. He allowed six earned runs in five innings during his only start in the major leagues.

For Travis, this is a moment he will relish. The number three overall prospect rose quickly through the Red Sox minor league system before a torn ACL ended his 2016 season. He quickly asserted himself in Spring Training of this season, slashing .318/.400/.591 with three home runs, 12 runs batted in, and eight runs in 44 at-bats.

That success carried over to his minor league play, as he’s hit .286/.353/.452 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 19 runs in 33 games for Pawtucket. According to his MLB Pipeline scouting profile, Travis has the potential pop to provide an immediate boost to a middling Red Sox offense.

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"Travis is a polished right-handed hitter who lets his power come naturally rather than worrying about homers. He recognizes pitches, controls the strike zone and makes loud contact from gap to gap."

As a true first baseman, he’ll also add depth to a depleted infield that doesn’t feature any other viable options to backup Mitch Moreland. Moreland’s played in 42 of the team’s 43 games at first. Hanley Ramirez was expected to play the field against left-handed pitchers, but shoulder ailments and a general disinterest in first base have kept him locked in the DH spot. As a right-handed hitter, Travis will offer Moreland a chance to rest against left-handed pitching while keeping Ramirez in his range of comfort.

He’ll start on the bench for his first game in a major league uniform as the Red Sox face RHP Andrew Cashner, though he will be available to pinch-hit. Travis will more than likely get his first major league start Wednesday, as the Red Sox face Rangers lefty, Martin Perez. Whether Travis is here to see if he’s ready for the major leagues or just on a temporary basis, this move is a clear attempt to jolt bolster the lineup.

It also raises questions regarding the team’s eventual plan when one of Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt return from the disabled list. Deven Marrero will likely make the trip back to Triple-A once one of the two is back. Meaning the club can’t really only hold onto three 1B/DH type players for too long. Once everyone’s at full health, one of Travis or utility infielder Josh Rutledge will have to go. For Travis, that’s simply being optioned back to Pawtucket. For Rutledge, that’s getting designated for assignment and going back to the Colorado Rockies under Rule-5 Draft regulations.

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The Red Sox enter Tuesday’s game 16th among MLB teams in runs scored (196), 20th in slugging (.408), and 29th in home runs (38). Despite the third best average (.267) and fourth best on-base percentage (.337), the club’s offensive has been anemic for significant stretches of the season. In Sam Travis, management is hoping to provide a much-needed spark.