“This is the greatest day of my life,” Devon Travis told reporters after hearing the news of him becoming the Blue Jays starting second baseman. It’s a lot to take in for a 24-year-old, who was acquired last year for speedy OF Anthony Gose, and has yet to have a major league at-bat.
This is not to say that he won’t be ready for his shot. The young second baseman was taken in the 13th round out of Florida State and has been nothing but impressive in the minors. In 257 games with Detroit’s affiliates, Devon posted a combined .323 batting average. His largest sample size was in 2013 when he played for West Michigan, and Lakeland. He posted a .351 batting average with 16 home runs in 122 games for the A/high level A clubs. Last year, Travis hit .298 in 100 games playing for the Tigers’ double A affiliate in Erie. The 5’9″, 190 pound second baseman may not be the biggest player on the field, but he has been playing big.
With the amount of “starting” second basemen the Blue Jays franchise has had over the past four years; it will be up to Travis to cement his position in 2015, and become a vital part of Toronto’s future. Since Arizona acquired long-time Blue Jay Aaron Hill and John McDonald for Kelly Johnson, there has been a big, gaping hole on the right side of the infield. From 2011 to the present, the Blue Jays have had different second basemen start the season opener each year:
2012 – Kelly Johnson: 142 GP .225 AVG 16 HR 55 RBI
2013 – Emilio Bonifacio: 94 GP .218 AVG 3 HR 12 SB
2014 – Maicer Izturis: 33 GP .286 AVG 0 HR 1 RBI
2015 – Devon Travis: 25 GP .339 AVG 0 HR 7 RBI (Spring Training)
Toronto has had 12 different players overall patrol the position in the past four campaigns: Mike McCoy (2009-2013), Ryan Goins (2009-2015), Omar Vizquel (2012), Steve Tolleson (2013-2015), Mark DeRosa (2013), Munenori Kawasaki (2013-2015), and Chris Getz (2014) all saw action at second, but none of them made a deep enough impact to stick with the club. Nobody has been able to replace Aaron Hill since the departure after his seven-year stint in Toronto. It has been awhile since the Blue Jays have put together a roster that included a solid 2B on both sides of the ball, but Toronto is certainly urging Travis to stake his claim this season, and his teammates seem to believe he is up for the challenge.
Newly acquired Josh Donaldson had this to say in a tweet from Mike Wilner.
The tools he brings to the roster are apparent: great defensively, can hit for contact, and will be responsible for turning the lineup over while hitting in the 8 or 9 spot. The 24-year-old led the Blue Jays in hits this Spring with 20, and did not commit an error in 21 appearances. Toronto has been waiting for an athlete to take over at second base the way Aaron Hill did for seven years, or the way fan favorite Orlando “O-Dog” Hudson did from 2002-2005. The job is certainly Travis’ to lose, and the struggle to find a legit second baseman may be over in Toronto.