Devon Travis’ Effect on Blue Jays System
Coming into Spring Training the Toronto Blue Jays were hoping that Macier Izturis was fully healed for a knee injury suffered in the first month of the 2014 season. The Jays were hopeful that Ryan Goins could finally prove he’s capable of consistently hitting major league pitching and a new approach at the plate. They were also hoping, beyond all hope, that the Detroit Tigers prospect they received as part of a November 2014 trade, which saw Toronto trade Anthony Gose for a Double-A second baseman would be the answer to the revolving door that’s been 2nd base.
This spring Devon Travis was given every opportunity to win or lose the starting 2nd baseman’s job, depending on how you look at it. Devon was given more at-bats than any other player in camp and he made them count.
He collected 20 hits, 6 doubles, 7RBI, 4/10 BB/K, and hit .339 in 25 games. So instead of starting the year off with the Buffalo Bisons or the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Devon Travis will be the Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day 2nd baseman.
In my Buffalo Bison forecasting piece, I had Ryan Goins pegged as the Bisons starting 2nd baseman, but I was actually hopeful that he’d start the year as the Jays bench infielder. Goins brings a lot to the team if he can show a bit more plate discipline. There’s some real value for him as a utility infielder and possibly as a 5th outfielder. Jonathan Diaz has prolonged his career by being that ‘super utility’ bench/AAAA player…..although the label ‘super’ might not be accurate.
Devon’s strong spring allowed him to leap-frog several Jays minor league infielders, including Ryan Goins. For the time being.
Buffalo will now have Ryan Goins, Ryan Schimpf, and Munenori Kawasaki as second base options, with Jonathan Diaz recently being added to the mix. Ideally, the Bisons will use an infield of Schimpf at 2nd and Goins at short with Kawasaki and Diaz coming off the bench or being released. Schimpf led the Jays minor league system in home runs and has shown an ability to generate solid peripheral numbers. With more playing time he could become a solid bench player with some pop.
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The New Hampshire Fisher Cats infield was also affected by Travis making the Opening Day roster. Travis is still listed on the Fisher Cats roster, so it’s safe to assume that Alex and co. expect that he would start the season in New Hampshire if he had struggled during the spring.
Now a decision will need to be made on the future of Jon Berti. I predicted that the speed second baseman would be transitioned from 2nd base to the outfield, which would add outfield depth…an area the Jays system lack depth. But I don’t see this transition happening now with Devon Travis staying in Toronto for the foreseeable future. If Berti still shifts to the outfield it will make room at second Christian Lopes from Dunedin, who is coming off an impressive showing with Canberra Calvary of the Australian Baseball League.
So you see, there are many prospects in the Jays system cheering for Devon Travis to succeed because his success produces opportunities that would have otherwise not existed.