August 26, 2012

On Baseball: The path opens for first baseman

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - When Travis Shaw connected on a change-up in the eighth inning Friday night, it was launched into the Portland night, high and well above the Hadlock right-field wall.

click image to enlarge

Travis Shaw, the first baseman for the Sea Dogs, suddenly is thinking about a future in Boston with Adrian Gonzalez gone.

2012 File Photo/John Ewing

A power-hitting first baseman.

Seems like the Boston Red Sox could use one of those.

Shaw, 22, is now a prospect in the spotlight after Boston unexpectedly traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who had a contract through 2018.

Before Boston traded Gonzalez to the Dodgers, Shaw's future in Boston appeared dim at best.

"I feel like it will work itself out one way or another, whether it's with the Red Sox or not," Shaw said earlier in the week. "It's not in my head at all."

By Saturday, Shaw was thinking about his future, with Gonzalez now in Los Angeles.

"It definitely got my attention, especially since he was locked up for six more years," Shaw said. "That's huge for me. It definitely excites me, and gives me something to look forward to in the next couple of years.

"If next year goes well, we'll see what happens."

Shaw was drafted twice by the Red Sox.

They chose him in the 32nd round in 2008 out of Washington Court House (Ohio) High, near Columbus.

But Shaw opted for Kent State, where he batted .307 with 14 home runs as a junior. Boston drafted him again last year in the ninth round.

Shaw, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, has a major league pedigree. His father, Jeff, was a major league pitcher with five teams over 12 years. He was named to two All-Star Games and led the National League in saves (42) in 1997.

Father and son talk often, making Travis a natural student of the game. He not only has power, he knows what to do at the plate.

In his first full pro season this year, Shaw shined in advanced Class A Salem, batting .305 with 31 doubles, 16 home runs and a .411 on-base percentage in 99 games. His OPS was .957.

Called up Aug. 1 to Portland, Shaw started slowly (.221 average in 21 games) but has been hot this homestand, including three doubles Thursday and that towering home run Friday.

"Looks like his bat has had a little more life to it the last couple of nights," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles.

THE SEA DOGS will benefit from the big trade because one of the prospects from the Dodgers, pitcher Allen Webster, is coming to Portland.

Webster, 22, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America, pitched all season in Double-A, at Chattanooga of the Southern League.

Webster, who last pitched on Tuesday, was 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA, with 117 strikeouts and 57 walks in 121 2/3 innings.

But those numbers don't show Webster's improvement and dominance.

Since May 9 he is 5-3 with a 2.04 ERA. A sinkerball pitcher, Webster has allowed one home run all year.

One interesting part about Webster is he was a shortstop drafted in the 18th round in 2008. The Dodgers converted him to a pitcher.

THE TRADE OF Gonzalez means the Red Sox dealt three top prospects -- former Sea Dogs Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly, and Class A outfielder Reymond Fuentes -- for less than two years of Gonzalez.

Rizzo, 23, a first baseman who was later traded from the Padres to the Cubs, is batting .283 with nine home runs in 51 games with Chicago since his call-up to the majors.

Kelly, 22, a pitcher, battled a sore arm earlier this year but reportedly will make his major league debut Monday for the Padres.

Fuentes, 21, is batting .221 in Double-A.

FENWAY PARK will be buzzing today about the trade, but it's also Maine Day.

As part of the ceremonies, Michaela Boissonneault of Portland will sing the national anthem, and Sharon Buck of Clinton will sing "God Bless America." Jared Gilbert of Scarborough, who won a Red Sox essay contest, will throw out the first pitch.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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