Travis Jones Climbing the Braves Ladder Fast

Travis Jones makes the most of his opportunities. Forced to go the junior college route, he played one year as a junior for the Gamecocks before his hometown Atlanta Braves made him an offer he couldn't refuse. His tremendous heart and God-given talent made him a critical component of the 2006 USC team, and forever a fan favorite of those who wear the garnet and black. Here's an update on Jones.

Since becoming professional baseball player just weeks after completing his college career, the former South Carolina star Travis Jones has risen from the rookie league to lower A ball to the Carolina league, the highest level of A ball; and he is expected to make the jump to AA ball next season. Perhaps he might have been an Astro instead of a Brave with that meteoric rise, but Jones's heart has always been with the Atlanta club.

Jones told GamecockAnthem, "I watched them growing up all my life, and just to be playing with them is an honor. Hopefully one day I can complete my dream by playing at home in Atlanta, around family and friends, you know."

The attraction of playing for his hometown Atlanta Braves was a deciding factor in his decision to leave South Carolina with a year of eligibility left. "I always wanted to play there. You dream about that every night, so that was probably a deciding factor."

He talked about the difference between the college and the pro game: "It's a big adjustment. You have to learn fast. You've got to have short-term memory. Everyday you've got to come out and work. If you don't have a good day you've got to bounce back and look forward to the next day."

Asked which if he liked the pro game better than the college game, he replied, "Oh man, I love it. You know, I'm a professional athlete now, but I love college too. Ray Tanner and those guys, Justin Smoak, Reese Havens, just all those guys. Man, I miss them a lot." He admitted being on the road and constantly on the move made keeping up difficult. "I still try to keep in contact with them, through text messaging, Facebook, on the phone."

Jones does follow closely the careers of his former Gamecock teammates who will be joining him soon at the professional level. Talking about Darnell and Smoak who are predicted to be top 25 picks, he said, "They probably have a lot of pressure going on right now, so I'll just wait until after the draft, to call them and see how they're doing. Please congratulate them (for me)."

Jones started with the Danville Braves in the rookie league right after leaving Columbia, but quickly moved up to the Rome (Georgia) Braves at the lower A level. He is currently playing second base with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League. They are the only Braves affiliate without the name "Braves", as well as the only Braves affiliate not owned by their major league counterpart.

When asked about his most memorable experience so far in pro ball, he said, "In Rome, I hit three homeruns in one game. That's my most memorable moment right now."

Jones was quick to play down his rapid advancement in the Braves system. "It's up to the organization," he said. "I'm just out here to play, do my job every day, and wherever I go, I'm just ready to play."

Bill Shanks of the BravesShow.com said, "Travis has gotten off to a solid start in 2008, showing decent power as a second baseman. As a college player he was able to jump all the way to the Carolina League and has adjusted well. The Braves are anxious for Jones to finish his first full season, and next year will definitely be a test for him in Double-A."

Reflecting on being ranked as one of the top 20 players in the (Carolina) league, Jones smiled and said, "Yeah, I feel pretty good right now in the plan. I just hope I can keep doing what I've been doing, playing baseball, playing the game that I love."

Jones closed with a shout out to his friends at Carolina and all the Gamecock fans: "I miss everybody, and I thank you for the support that I've been getting so far. I wish I could have been there this year, but, you know…"

They know. Opportunity knocked, and Jones answered. And Braves and Gamecock fans alike hope he keeps on answering, all the way to the big show.
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