Nick Travieso woke up at 2:30 Friday morning with his bags packed. He got a ride to the airport, landed in Dayton several hours later and began his life as a Dragon.
Warming up prior to Friday’s game against Lake County, the Cincinnati Reds No. 1 draft pick in 2012 took a look at the rain, heat and humidity surrounding Fifth Third Field and for the first time in a long time felt at home.
“It’s a big difference from Arizona,” Travieso said. “There you have to get used to the hot, thin air. Here you have the rain, the temperature, the humidity — it feels like I’m back in South Florida.”
Travieso was born and raised in Southwest Ranches, Fla., where he helped Archbishop McCarthy High School to three straight Florida 6A state championships. After being picked No. 14 overall last year, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound righty spent the 2012 season in extended spring training in Arizona.
He was preparing to begin the season in Billings when Dayton starter Sal Romano took a line drive off his foot during an 11-1 loss to South Bend on Wednesday. Romano went on the disabled list, Travieso was sent to Dayton.
Also moved was Austin Salter, who was sent to Arizona to work on a back issue. Returning is reliever Joel Bender, who began the season with Dayton. Bender appeared in six games and was 0-1 with a 6.16 ERA. Salter was 0-1 with a 17.36 ERA.
Travieso found out he was coming to Dayton late Thursday after pitching a two-inning intrasquad session.
“I was surprised, just because of the staff that was here,” Travieso said. “I was just trying to control what I could control in Arizona. I know here they have amazing fans, an awesome ballpark and an awesome city.”
Travieso came into extended spring training last year tired and lost velocity on his fastball. He has recovered during his second year in the Reds organization. Baseball America rated him the club’s No. 6 prospect.
“He’s usually in the mid-90s, but he’s hitting 98 sometimes,” Dayton manager Jose Nieves said. “He has poise on the mound and is a guy who will give us a presence that we need. With his stuff he will be a huge add.”
Travieso’s first start is scheduled for Monday, when Dayton plays Lake County at 7 p.m.