TORONTO _ The first month in the big geague career of Devon Travis has been a resounding success, but the 24 year-old Palm Beach, Fla. native is taking it in stride, leaning on his foundation built on an emphasis on education and hard work.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos obviously saw something in the young second baseman last season, when he acquired Travis in a trade with the Detroit Tigers Nov. 12 sending former top outfield prospect Anthony Gosethe other way. Even with all the faith in the world, It would have been hard for even Anthopoulos could have predicted the April that Travis turned in to begin his big league career.
In 22 games in the season’s first month, Travis hit .325 with six doubles, six homeruns and drove in 19 runs. His homerun and RBI count led the Blue Jays in the month as did his extra-base hit total (12), and his batting average. Josh Donaldson tied him in homers, hitting his sixth on May 1st.
Travis’ .658 slugging percentage was the best for a rookie second baseman since 1949. And to top it off, he played errorless defense at second base. But it’s not going to change his approach, and that, he says, is thanks to his mom, Tammy.
“Growing up in my family, baseball and education were always a package deal,” Travis said. “It was understood that if you can’t have one without the other.”
It was that way right from the time that he was a young standout in the East Boynton Beach Little League, in his hometown of Palm Beach, Fla., all the way until his graduation as an honour roll student from Palm Beach Central High School.
Travis was quite literally, a ‘straight-A student’.
“It was in grade nine when I brought home my first ‘B’, and I wasn’t too excited about it,” he remembers. “Excellence was always expected in school.”
“Florida has what they call the Bright Futures Scholarships, which were a major focus of mine and it was pretty demanding.” Travis continues. “Qualifying for the Bright Futures helped me secure my scholarship to play college baseball.”
By the end of his time at Palm Beach Central, Travis was making people take notice on the baseball field as well, and he, and others around him, recognized that he had a legitimate opportunity to make a career out of baseball. After batting .483 with 26 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in his senior year of high school in 2009, Travis accepted a scholarship to play at Florida State University.
Travis had put himself in position to join one of the predominant programs in college baseball, and accomplished head coach Mike Martin. By 2015, Martin had amassed over 1,800 career victories in his 36 years as Florida State head coach, and has made 15 trips to the College World Series.
Travis says that although he was focused on baseball at this point, his commitment to his education gave him the opportunity.
“Hard work and education put me in a place where I could pursue my dreams.” Travis begins. “It opened an opportunity for me to go to a place like Florida State that put me in the best position to realize my goal of pro ball, while also furthering my education as well.”
Travis was a three-year starter on the Seminoles infield from 2010-2012, accumulating 17 home runs and 100 RBIs in 177 career games, before being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 13th round of the 2012 draft, following his junior year.
Along with on field accolades including All-ACC honours as a sophomore and being named a pre-season All-American prior to his junior season, Travis, a marketing major at FSU, stayed true to the values that have been instilled in him. During his three years on campus in Tallahassee, Travis was a two-time member of the 3.0 GPA Club at FSU, the first time coming in his very first semester in the fall of 2009.
Realizing that his baseball aspirations were at hand, Travis signed with the Tigers after the 2012 draft, and spent three years in their minor league system, his stock rising throughout, leading to him being rated as the Tigers top prospect, before being acquired by the Blue Jays.
Entering this spring, Travis was looking to make an impression while battling in an infield picture that appeared blurry at the outset of spring training. He stepped right in and clarified that picture in a hurry with an impressive spring, prompting manager John Gibbons to name him the club’s starting second baseman before opening day.
Many have invested, and put their faith in Travis along his journey. From parents Tony and Tammy Travis, Florida State coach Martin, the Detroit Tigers, and finally the Blue Jays brain trust in Anthopolous and Gibbons.
One month in, and he is rewarding that faith yet again. And it’s all because he chose to invest in himself.
One thing that youngsters can take from the story of Devon Travis?
“Education is paramount.” He explains. “So many things can be taken away, but nobody can ever take away your education. That is your opportunity to better yourself.”
“You will always have your education, and it will help you in so many ways.”