The Red Sox have been quite average over the first two months of the 2017 season. The club is one game above .500 at 22-21, placing them third in the AL East, and its offense has averaged 4.56 runs per game, just below the Major League average of 4.57.
On Tuesday, Boston made a move that it hopes can give it the push it has lacked in April and May.
The Red Sox announced that they have called up first baseman Sam Travis, their No. 3 prospect, from Triple-A Pawtucket for his Major League debut. Travis, who was not on the 40-man roster, technically had to have his contract purchased by the big club to make the promotion possible. Right-hander Hector Velázquez was optioned as the corresponding move.
The promotion comes as Travis has been torching the International League. After hitting just .233 with a .647 OPS in 17 games in April, the 23-year-old owns a .333/.389/.561 line with three homers, six doubles and 13 RBIs in 16 contests this month. He's also making a lot more contact with an 8.3 percent strikeout rate in May, compared to 26.9 percent in April. He's been especially hot over the last week, going 12-for-28 (.429) with two homers and two doubles in his final six games with the PawSox.
The 2014 second-rounder will likely form a platoon with lefty-hitting Mitch Moreland, who's been the starting first baseman in all but two of Boston's 43 games as Hanley Ramirez has taken over full-time DH duties. The righty-hitting Travis has thrived against Triple-A left-handers, hitting .414/.485/.724 with two homers, three doubles, four walks and three strikeouts in 33 plate appearances. Moreland hasn't produced nearly as well against southpaws (.733 OPS in 30 plate appearances) as he has against righties (.819, 146 plate appearances).
Video: Travis belts go-ahead shot for Pawtucket
Travis will be on the bench Tuesday night when the Red Sox host the Rangers with right-hander Andrew Cashner getting the start for Texas. Texas is slated to have lefty Martin Perez start Wednesday, an opportunity for Travis to make his first big league start.
There's a chance Travis could take over full-time duties from Moreland at some point, but that would likely be because of his bat rather than his glove. Travis' ceiling at first is as an average defender; Moreland won a Gold Glove in 2016 and is tied for the lead among AL first basemen with three Defensive Runs Saved.
Travis may have been in line to make his Major League debut in 2016, when he played 47 games with Pawtucket before a torn ACL ended his season in May.