After a tough 2013 at Double-A Portland, no one was quite sure what to make of Travis Shaw, a player who at one point showed flashes of being a future big league slugger until he limped through last season.
A mental reset, a trip to the Arizona Fall League, an invite to big league camp in the spring, and solid results over the first month and a half of this season have helped put Portland in Shaw’s rearview as the Sox top first base prospect was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.
“It was nice to finally be able to look back on Portland,” Shaw said. “I finally had some success [in Portland] for a sustained period of time that I hadn’t been able to do for a year and a half. Being able to do that and getting that call up to here was very exciting for me. I’m happy to be out of there and I’m looking forward to my career now in Triple-A.”
“He had some struggles last year,” said Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles, who also managed Shaw in Portland in 2012 and 2013. “He was searching a little bit. I think going to the fall league was very beneficial to him because he felt like he belonged.”
Shaw made the jump to Double-A midway through a strong season at High-A Salem in 2012, but struggled through the final 31 games of that season, and much of the 127 games played there last year, compiling a .222 average in that span.
The rejuvenated Shaw made sure he was ready this season and despite only collecting four hits in his first 10 games, he was never discouraged and turned things around quickly.
“There weren’t results, but honestly, I felt like I was having tremendous at-bats,” said Shaw of the start of his 2014 season. “I was hitting the ball hard, but nothing was falling. I wasn’t pressing. I felt like if I continued with that approach and kept hitting the ball the same way that they would eventually start falling and they have here in the past month and half.”
With Portland, Shaw collected hits in 34 of 47 games for a .305 average backed by 11 home runs, eight doubles, 37 RBIs, and 35 runs scored.
With Ryan Lavarnway getting called up to Boston, Pawtucket was desperate for a first baseman – and maybe even more desperate for a hot bat – making Shaw an obvious choice for the call.
After a 90-minute trek from Manchester, N.H., to Pawtucket on Monday afternoon, Shaw arrived at McCoy Stadium to see he would be batting fifth and three at-bats into his Triple-A career he was on the board with a single to right field in the sixth inning of a 3-2 PawSox victory.
“Getting that first hit out of the way was huge for me,” said Shaw. “It’s starting to become a lot more of a reality that my ultimate dream could be coming true.
“I know that if I continue to put in the work and just do what I’m supposed to do and stay on the right track, that my time should come. But I’m not trying to worry about, I’m not trying to focus on it, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing every single day and it will all speak for itself.”
Portland – The SeaDogs walloped the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 18-0, on Saturday night, tying a franchise mark for greatest margin of victory. Portland plated runs in six separate innings, including six in the first inning without a hit. They were run away from the franchise record for most in a game which came in a 19-1 win over New Britain in 2009.
Squeezing the system
Pawtucket (AAA) – Manager Kevin Boles has used 52 different lineups over the team’s first 53 games. Over the last week alone the PawSox have sent Daniel Nava, Brandon Workman, and Ryan Lavarnway to Boston and have had six players called up thus far this season.
Portland (AA) – Keith Couch continues to be one of the better pitchers in the Eastern League. The right-hander leads the league with six wins and is fifth with a 2.22 ERA. Over his last three outings he has gone 2-0 with a save (he pitched four relief innings, piggybacking the rehabbing Steven Wright on Monday). In that span, he threw 18 innings allowing just one earned on 14 hits and three walks.
Salem (A+) – Outfielder/infielder Jonathan Roof has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games and his 36 runs are third most in the Carolina League. Roof was originally drafted by Boston in 2007, but went to Michigan State and was drafted again in 2010, this time by Texas in the eighth round. The Red Sox acquired Roof in the Rule 5 draft this past offseason.
Greenville (A) – Drive reliever Raynel Velette pitched three hitless innings on Sunday versus Charleston, his fourth appearance of the season without yielding a base knock. On the season Velette has allowed runs in just two of his nine appearances and is 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.