IL notes: Travis seeing time in outfield

No. 5 Red Sox prospect becoming more versatile in Pawtucket

Sam Travis has previous outfield experience in the Dominican Winter and Cape Cod leagues. (Ken Jancef/MiLB.com)

By John Wagner / Special to MiLB.com | April 16, 2018 10:00 AM ET

When the Red Sox played some exhibition games against the Cubs this spring, it allowed two former Indiana University teammates, Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis, to reconnect.

"When [Schwarber] came over to my place, he said, 'So, you're going to the outfield?' and I told him I was," Travis said.

While Schwarber knows a little bit about moving to the outfield, Travis -- the fifth-ranked Red Sox prospect -- is learning about switching positions. He started in left field in Pawtucket's April 11 game against Buffalo, the first time he's played any position other than first base since Boston selected him in the second round of the 2014 Draft.

"They want some versatility from him," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "Most of our guys are versatile, and it's no different with him. Getting Travis some work at other spots could be beneficial to him, and if there's a need, he can be the guy they call on. If you only have one position, it's tougher to break into a Major League lineup."

Playing the outfield is not completely foreign to the 6-foot, 214-pound Chicago native. He spent one game there in the Dominican Winter League during the offseason and also saw action in the outfield in the Cape Cod League in 2012.

"It's not like it's absolutely new to me," Travis said. "I was told I would get some time out there and I know I will get better out there with more reps."

Boles said the plan is to have Travis play in the outfield once or twice a week to get him accustomed to the position. But make no mistake, Travis is a prospect because of his ability to hit, owning a .295 career batting average in the Minors along with a .360 on-base percentage.

"He's an offensive-minded player, no doubt about it," Boles said. "He can drive the ball to all fields.

"We're trying to create a little more loft with his swing because if you look at his Minor League numbers you see he doesn't have a lot of home runs. I think power is going to develop later in his career. But he has always been a guy who can manage the strike zone and be a tough out."

Travis hit .270 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 82 games with Pawtucket last season. He also batted .263 in a 33-game stint with Boston, time Travis said helped him learn lessons he tries to apply every day.

"The biggest thing I learned is that you shouldn't take your time for granted," he said. "I also learned it's important to take care of your body every single day. Some days you're not going to feel your best, but you have to bring it every day and try to win games. But it's a little kids' game, so I also try to have fun -- and still bring it every day."

In brief

Beato back on top: Last season, Lehigh Valley RHP Pedro Beato was named the IL's postseason All-Star reliever after collecting a league-best 29 saves. This season, he already has an IL-leading three saves in the IronPigs' first eight games, having surrendered two hits and one walk while striking out seven in 4 1/3 innings.

Going the distance: Louisville's Rosell Herrera is not stopping at first base very often when he collects a hit. He leads the IL with seven extra-base hits in eight games, totaling two homers, at riple and four doubles among his 12 hits. Herrera, who's played third base as well as all three outfield positions for the Bats, is batting .353 with a .389 on-base percentage and .706 slugging percentage.

He said it: "You can see why [Tim Melville] was a high Draft pick. He's got a plus fastball, plus curveball. He's athletic. He's what they look like. He's interesting to me because a guy with all that ability, and he just has a minimal amount of time in the Major Leagues. … He's one of those guys that's lightning in a bottle. If you catch it right and he develops into what I think everybody in baseball probably thinks that he could be, he could be a special guy." --Norfolk manager Ron Johnson to The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot . The 28-year-old Melville, who has made six appearances in the Majors for the Reds, Twins and Padres, yielded three hits and two walks while striking out six in a start against Charlotte on April 11.

He said it, version 2.0: "I call my glove, 'The Mouth.' I tell everybody to throw the ball however they can to me, and 'The Mouth' will help you." --Toledo 1B Edwin Espinal to The (Toledo) Blade. "The Mouth" helped a lot of Pirates infielders last season as Espinal, who played at Double-A Altoona as well as Indianapolis, did not make an error at first base and en route to a Gold Glove.

John Wagner is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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