Red Sox prospect Travis Shaw aims to follow All-Star father’s footsteps
|07.15.11 at 12:15 am ET|
For most kids, dreaming of being in the big leagues is easy, even as they have little idea of what it would mean to fulfill that goal. For Travis Shaw, things were a bit different.
Shaw, whose father Jeff was a big league reliever for 12 years, spent plenty of time around major league clubhouses while growing up. The exposure to that environment left Travis with little doubt that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and one day make it to the big leagues.
“I have always wanted to be like my dad,” Shaw said. “Seeing the lifestyle definitely contributed to it being a dream of mine.’
The younger Shaw saw first-hand what being a major leaguer is like. Jeff Shaw played for the Indians, Expos, White Sox, Reds and Dodgers over the course of his 12 seasons. He was a two-time All-Star and the 1997 Relief Man of the Year.
“Out in L.A. I would shag fly balls at home games,” he recalled. “Then when they went on the road I would be the bat boy a lot. Growing up around that and seeing the everyday routine that major leaguers went through was pretty special.’
While watching his son play Wednesday night in Lowell, Jeff recalled another memory of having Travis around his teams growing up.
“I remember when he came to Houston and I was on the mound and Travis was in the dugout. After each pitch the camera would show his face and the majority of the time he would be making faces at the umpire’s call.”
During the summer of 2007, Shaw played for a summer league team, Greenville Tech, that participated in tournaments throughout the South. That is when Jeff had an idea that his son might have a chance to become like him and make a career out of baseball.
In 2008 Shaw was drafted out of high school in the 32nd round by the Red Sox. He knew right away that he would not sign and instead would head to college and play for Kent State. Despite the decision, it was at that time that he realized he could potentially be like his Dad and become a professional baseball player.
‘I honestly didn’t realize that maybe I had a shot until I got drafted after high school,” Shaw said. “There wasn’t any talk of me getting drafted until very late in the year. I got a couple phone calls from professional scouts and I realized, ‘Wow, maybe this could be a career,’ and that is when I started to focus on it a lot more.’
The elder Shaw wanted his son to go to college, and Travis agreed so it really wasn’t a hard decision.
“I really wanted him to go to college,” the former major leaguer said. “Obviously, physically he was ready for professional ball, but mentally I knew he wasn’t ready for the everyday grind of being a professional.”
As a freshman at Kent State, the third baseman batted .331 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs while starting in 31 of the 52 games he appeared in. Shaw started in all 59 games that he appeared in during his sophomore year. He batted .330, and nearly doubled his home run (15) and RBI (60) totals from his freshman year. His junior and final season at Kent State did not go as well as the first two, according to Shaw.
‘It was kind of a down year, especially average wise,” Shaw said. “I started out terrible, the first five weekends were terrible, I was under .200. I picked it up in the middle of the year, but at the end of the year I slowed down again. Overall, it was probably my worst year there.’
Shaw batted .307 in his final season in college, had 14 home runs and 51 RBIs while starting in all 62 games Kent State played.
In June Shaw was selected in the ninth round of the major league baseball draft, again by the Red Sox.
“I was pretty happy, as the Red Sox were one of my top choices,” he said. “I was hoping that they would pick me again.’
This year’s draft was more stressful according to Shaw.
“This year was a lot more stressful because I knew coming out of high school I wasn’t going to sign,” he said. “This was a big draft and everything worked out. I have no regrets at all.’
Shaw signed almost immediately for a $110,000 bonus and was sent to Lowell to play for the Spinners, the short-season Class-A affiliate of the Red Sox.
The Spinners have Shaw splitting time between first and third base. Shaw feels more comfortable at his natural position, third base. He says that he is having trouble adjusting to the footwork at first base, but he is getting more comfortable with every game he plays there.
The left-handed hitting Shaw is off to a hot start with the Spinners. Entering Friday he is hitting .309 and has a New York-Penn league leading six home runs. He has also added 16 RBIs, and ranks among league leaders in OBP, slugging and OPS.
“Everything is feeling pretty good,” Shaw said. “I feel like I am driving the ball the other way pretty well, and that is when I know I am at my best. I feel like I just need to keep things going, taking things one day at time and keep on going with my routines.’
With Travis’ Dad having plenty of big league experience as a pitcher, he gives his son a perspective that most players cannot get. He and his Dad are extremely close and talk nearly everyday.
‘When he is home he watches every at bat on the computer, so every night I have someone that watches me and it makes it a lot easier, especially after games,” Shaw said about his father’s help. “We go through each at bat from both my point of view and his, so I can get the pitchers side of it. It has been very helpful.
“It is a huge advantage. He tells me what to expect going through the minor leagues and reminds me of what it takes to get to the major leagues.’
Jeff sees the talent that his son has, especially as a power hitter.
“His strengths are definitely his power and his ability to drive he ball to the gap,” Shaw said about his son. “He is also a very patient hitter, and he is a smart baseball player with a lot of baseball sense. Obviously his weakness is his speed, but he makes up for it with his baseball sense.”
Seeing his Dad make it to the big leagues, as well as former Spinners such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Clay Buchholz and others playing in the majors has allowed Shaw to recognize how real his opportunity is.
‘Definitely, when you know that there are big leaguers that have come through here it is pretty motivational to think that maybe you could be the next one to make it like them,” he said. “It is definitely a goal for me–just seeing them move up the ladder so quickly and they have had a lot of success and hopefully I can fall in their footsteps.’
When asked for what kind of advice he gives his son, Shaw had only one answer.
“Patience,” he said. “The whole key is patience. There will be plenty of ups and downs, but all you can do is be patient.”
It took Youkilis five years to get from Lowell to the majors, while it only took Ellsbury and Buchholz three.
‘Five years, if everything goes the way I plan I would be up there in the major leagues,” Shaw said. “Hopefully I can go through the system pretty quickly, I just need to continue putting up the numbers and move up the ladder pretty quickly.’
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