Sam Travis

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: How promoted first baseman Sam Travis earned nickname 'The Animal'

Ryan Hannable
June 25, 2015 - 11:52 am

Although first baseman Sam Travis has been in the Red Sox organization for just over a year, he's already making a name for himself. After being selected out of Indiana University in the second-round of the 2014 MLB draft, Travis has already reached Double-A Portand, as the left-handed hitter was officially promoted Thursday. Travis split last summer with Lowell and Greenville, hitting .316 overall, and continued his success this season with High-A Salem. In 66 games he hit .313, while slugging .467 and was named to the Carolina League All-Star team. A player who takes his craft very seriously, his manager in Salem Carlos Febles gave him the nickname, "The Animal." "I nicknamed him 'The Animal.' That's everything about this guy," Febles said. "He loves the game. I gave him a day off one day and he was fighting me. ... He trusts his hands better than any other guy at this level. He hits up the middle. He's consistent. He's made a lot of improvements defensively and he's always looking to get better." Travis did a good amount of pregame work with Salem hitting coach Jon Nunnally, who the 21-year-old gives a lot of credit to for his success. The pair also do a lot of work with video, pointing out the flaws and positives in each of his at-bats. "I get my swings, but [Jon Nunnally], he's always harping on me because he knows that I want to be good and I want to help the team win and want to be successful," Travis said. "He's always on me, every at-bat, telling me what I need to do and what I did wrong and what I did well. He's been a great help and I couldn't thank him enough." Unlike most young players today, Travis prefers hard coaching. He doesn't mind being criticized. He actually prefers it, as he views it as coaches showing they care and wanting him to get better. "That's kind of how I have been my whole life, I've always like the old school kind of coach who isn't afraid to get on you," he said. "I know it's because he cares and he wants what is best for you. I'm not really into the modern type coach that kind of baby's players and doesn't like to get on you. When they get on you I know they care. "I know they want what is best for you. Regardless, you always have to listen because they know what they are talking about if they are here. They are here for a reason. They are just trying to make you better. I am learning something new every day." Travis went 2-for-2 in the All-Star Game Tuesday night and although he never thought about it, he talked about how playing in the game gave him confidence in his abilities and being able to play with some of the best prospects in baseball. "Absolutely," he said. "I've never been a guy that thinks about that. I've always remembered it's a game and fun and just going out there and competing. The biggest thing is confidence, you can't play this game scared. Once you get scared guys are older than you, the have more experience, that's when the game is going to catch up to you and you're not going to have fun. You have to be willing to accept failure and learn from it. You can't play scared that's for sure." It wasn't all success for Travis this season, as he was hitting just .173 on April 24, but was able to quickly turn things around. "It's always a game of adjustments," Travis said. "It's a game of failure more importantly. You're going to struggle, but the biggest thing is how you respond and how you make adjustments and how you keep moving forward. I try an always keep that confidence and like I said, a couple of adjustments, pitch selection and going back to just having fun and trying to win games. Not worrying about yourself, more importantly you have to worry about your team and the outcome of the game. That's kind of how things come together." Although he will leave his hitting coach behind, Travis will take what he learned to Portland and continue to climb the ladder in Red Sox' organization, which he hopes one day will lead to manning first base at Fenway Park. MARGOT JOINS SEA DOGS Travis wasn't the only big name promoted to Portland from Salem this week, as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox' organization in Manuel Margot was promoted earlier in the week. The 20-year-old Margot was batting .316 with an on-base percentage of .342 in the month of June with Salem, so it was his time. "I think it was time for him to be challenged at a higher level," Febles said. "He came up last year and hit well for a month and has here for over two months so we're talking three months of High-A baseball. I think this will be a challenge at the higher level and was one of the reasons they brought him up. He's ready to play at that level. I don't think he's scared." Margot was mentioned earlier in the season in trade rumors with the Phillies and starter Cole Hamels. Febles said he doesn't know exactly how that affected Margot, but noted for most players it's hard to deal with sometimes. "It's hard for me to say how much pressure was put on him, but as a young player when you hear your name on trade rumors it kind of puts you in a bad spot sometimes with what is going on and what is going to happen," he said. "Even at the big leagues, it upsets big league players sometimes too." The center fielder missed about three weeks in May because of a intercostal injury, which likely played a factor in an 0-for-12 slump before his trip to the disabled list because he tried to play through it and didn't tell anyone. Febles noted that is the type of player Margot is, always looking to work and get better, while playing extremely hard. "He does put a lot of work in with hitting and defense too," Febles said. "He will shag two groups [of batting practice] every day. He works on his jumps and reads every single day. He's always asking for ground balls. That shows how hard he works." Known for his exceptional defense in the outfield, Margot will certainly give the Sea Dogs' some excitement, something they've lacked so far this season with a below average group of prospects to this point in the year. MAKING MOVES It's been a busy week of player movement in the Red Sox' organization, with a number of players moving up the ladder with both Greenville and Salem having their All-Star breaks, making for a good time to make changes. -- Travis, C Jake Romanski and LHP Williams Jerez have been promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland. -- OF Derek Miller, C Jordan Procyshen and INF Mauricio Dubon have been promoted from Low-A Greenville to High-A Salem. -- INF Deven Marrero and RHP Jonathan Aro were promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to the Red Sox. The Red Sox also announced the signings of center fielder Nick Hamilton (11th round) and outfielder Jerry Downs (15th round). Additionally, third baseman Rafael Devers and Margot, both natives of the Dominican Republic, will be members of the World Team in the Future's Game prior to the Major League All-Star Game in Cincinnati.