Sam Travis Tries New Position In Dominican League

At the end of spring training the last two years, Sam Travis looked like a player with a big league-ready bat who had defensive work to do at first base.

But a funny thing happened in 2017, a season in which the 2014 second-rounder from Indiana flipped his strengths.

Offensively, Travis had what he described as “the worst year of my life.” He emerged as an occasional contributor in the big leagues, hitting .263/.325/.342 in 33 games, while slashing .270/.351/.375 with six homers in 82 games in Triple-A Pawtucket.

His lack of power, especially against righthanders (against whom he slugged .340, compared to .508 against lefties) amplified questions about whether the 24-year-old can profile as an everyday big league corner bat.

However, the fact that Travis was coming off an offseason focused on rehabbing from surgery to repair a ruptured ACL in his knee, while also dealing with inconsistent playing time while riding the Triple-A shuttle, likely contributed to the struggles.

“It was a little bit of a broken year—really two years—coming off a significant injury, trying to find his timing, getting called up to the big leagues as he was starting to get locked in (at Pawtucket)” farm director Ben Crockett said.

“He got big benefits from that exposure to the big leagues. He also probably could have benefited from more consistent at-bats to find his timing and really drive the ball a little bit more consistently than he did.”

The desire for more at-bats led Travis to join the Cibao in the Dominican League. Because of the strides he made defensively at first base during the season, the Red Sox felt comfortable with Travis trying his hand at left field in the DL. He logged his first game there on Oct. 22.

“We felt like this would be a good time to do it, going into next year,” Crockett said.

Travis’ expanded profile opens more avenues to a potential big league role, with power likely determining whether he emerges as a regular or an occasional bench contributor.

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