No. 36: Devon Travis, 2B
I find myself being a bit higher on Travis than most others, who have him somewhere in the 48-42 range of their respective Top 50 rankings. That's fine, as varying writers and scouts will always have differing opinions, especially on something as fickle as ranking prospects. Moving on, Devon Travis was selected in the 13th round of the 2012 Draft by the Tigers, out of Florida State University. After he signed, he was sent to Class A Short Season-Connecticut, where he posted very solid numbers before hernia surgery derailed his first professional season. In only 93 AB's (obviously a small sample size), Travis managed to post a very healthy .793 OPS, while only striking out 10 times and walking 8, and showing solid pop to the tune of 3 HR in those limited AB's. He's a pretty advanced player, having come out of college as a nicely polished hitter and fielder, so don't be surprised to see him jump a level or two in 2013.
Travis, to me, is kind of like the Andy Dirks of infielders. He does everything pretty well, with no glaring weaknesses (except for probably speed in Travis's case), but nor does he do anything significantly above average. To start, Travis stands about 5'9" and weighs in at 185lbs, and he has a good amount of strength packed into his smallish frame. He has a very thick lower body, speaking to his strength and his better quickness vs. straight line speed. I'm a big fan of his swing. He controls the bat very well, showing an advanced ability to barrel the baseball regardless of where it's pitched. Controls the strike zone well, and has solid pitch recognition, although he does occasionally have trouble with above average/plus breaking stuff. He has some good pop in his bat as well, much more than you would expect from someone who is only 5'9". He's not Dustin Pedroia, but there's more power there than one would expect. Now, I'm not calling him a power-hitting 2nd Baseman, as his overall power still grades out as a tick below average, but his ability to use the whole field to hit doubles, while still having some HR punch, enhances his offensive profile. He was described as one of the more athletic 2B available in the 2012 Draft, and while he's certainly not unathletic, that description is a bit off. He doesn't run very well at all, and grades out as a 40 runner long term, but he maintains solid quickness and agility so that his speed limitations don't affect his fielding ability. He's a very good defensive 2B, with outstanding instincts and hands, and a solid-average arm. Overall, Travis is just a good baseball player, one that I'm very excited to have in the organization.
Barring some kind of set back in Spring Training, I'd expect to see Travis head to Class A-West Michigan in 2013, and be their everyday 2B. Some have speculated that he could potentially be ready to receive an aggressive assignment to Lakeland, but the Tigers have somewhat of a logjam in Classes Advanced A and Double A with guys like Perez, Loy, Suarez, Machado, etc, looking to get time as well. Therefore, I see Travis headed to West Michigan, while Loy & Suarez (maybe) head to Lakeland and Machado & Perez go to Erie.