Snider Shooting for the Stars

There's only one way to get to the highest level of competition in baseball: you have to work hard and pay attention to details. In only his second season in the Jays organization, outfielder Travis Snider is proving his dedication to both. Snider talked to InsideTheDome on day 1 of the Arizona Fall League.

The Toronto prospect spoke with InsideTheDome just hours before his first Arizona Fall League game, in which he went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and two walks. Although Snider might be "under the radar" right now, the left-handed hitter shows the maturity that will no doubt make him a fan-favorite in Toronto for years.

After an exceptional introduction to pro baseball in (2006 with Pulaski) where he put up huge numbers in no time (.325/.412/.567, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 30 BB, 47 K and 6 stolen bases in 194 AB), Snider was given the challenge to Low A-ball in his second season and responded by hitting a cool .313/.377/.525.

Now, coming off his second instructional league experience with the Canadian club where he worked on his base running and defensive performance in the outfield, Travis Snider doesn't seem to be worried about the amount of work he has put in for 2007.

"Everyone said it's a long season and it is true," Snider said. "Especially your first one is the longest, but I feel like I'm ready to go and I'm excited to be down here...but you know it feels like I just got started even though I've already played 142, it's just nice to be here."

This season also saw the Washington State native face his first slump as a pro and he seems to have handled the challenge pretty well thanks to his attitude and the people around him.

"What they stress from day one in Spring Training is that you've got to develop your routine, because that's what is going to carry you. I went through a week and a half, two weeks where I started questioning my routine. I questioned what I had been doing. I felt a difference in my mechanics and luckily our instructor Dwayne Murphy and hitting coach Charles Poe spent a lot of time with me and we spent time in the cages hitting extra and working on getting back to that natural swing I had at the beginning of the season."

That stretch was followed by an impressive second half to the season where he hit eleven of his sixteen home runs and recorded an OPS of 1.011 in the month of August. Interestingly, the two months where he seemed to want to try to elevate the ball more (June –only 34 GB%- and August –only 32 GB%-) were the two instances where his K% elevated well above his season average of 24.7%.

However, the numbers that demand the most attention are the ones he put up against both right-handed pitchers (.314/.383/.524) and southpaws (.311/.365/.527). Young hitters usually make the mistake of trying to put up huge power numbers instead of focusing on situational hitting, but Snider avoided that trap and even found out that doing the little things helped him achieved better overall results. He referred often to adjustments hitters must make against pitchers to remain productive, and talked about his approach.

"The organization stresses you want to hit gap-to-gap and stay up the middle…but I'd say my approach is all pending on the situation of the game, what I need to do to move a guy over, grab a guy in, how a guy is pitching me sequence-wise, is he coming in or staying away. So it's really something that you don't change your approach, but your make adjustments as you go along and recognize how guys try to get you out."

His focus coming into the 2008 Spring Training and next season will be on his defense in the outfield, where he recorded 16 errors this past season, the most of all Lansing Lugnuts outfielders.

"I want to make sure that I'm 100% comfortable out there. When I get out there I want to understand situations, how to react to situations, where you throw the ball and hitting the cutoff man. "I've been able to swing the bat pretty well for the past two years, but defensively it's gotten worse and I need to turn that around and get better."

When asked who was the filthiest pitcher he had faced so far in professional baseball, the outfielder answered Clayton Kershaw, a left-handed pitcher in the Dodgers organization.

"He sits at 93-95 mph, which lefty on lefty makes it that much harder and he's got an absolute hammer. He'll throw it at your head and it'll drop back at the outside corner, you can only hope to foul it off."

While he needs to cut down on the strike outs, Travis Snider shows a rare ability to hit for power and average. What will be important for him is to round up his game, become a better fielder and be able to take some extra bases when the situation calls for it.

As the first high-school pick of J.P. Ricciardi's tenure as Blue Jays General Manager, Snider represents the state of the farm system in the lower levels, where raw talent and good makeup can now give hope to Jays fans that the franchise can build and sustain a contender from within.


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe Toronto prospect spoke with InsideTheDome just hours before his first Arizona Fall League game, in which he went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and two walks. Although Snider might be \"under the radar\" right now, the left-handed hitter shows the maturity that will no doubt make him a fan-favorite in Toronto for years.

\r\nAfter an exceptional introduction to pro baseball in (2006 with Pulaski) where he put up huge numbers in no time (.325/.412/.567, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 30 BB, 47 K and 6 stolen bases in 194 AB), Snider was given the challenge to Low A-ball in his second season and responded by hitting a cool .313/.377/.525.

\r\nNow, coming off his second instructional league experience with the Canadian club where he worked on his base running and defensive performance in the outfield, Travis Snider doesn't seem to be worried about the amount of work he has put in for 2007.

\r\n\"Everyone said it's a long season and it is true,\" Snider said. \"Especially your first one is the longest, but I feel like I'm ready to go and I'm excited to be down here...but you know it feels like I just got started even though I've already played 142, it's just nice to be here.\"

\r\nThis season also saw the Washington State native face his first slump as a pro and he seems to have handled the challenge pretty well thanks to his attitude and the people around him.

\r\n\"What they stress from day one in Spring Training is that you've got to develop your routine, because that's what is going to carry you. I went through a week and a half, two weeks where I started questioning my routine. I questioned what I had been doing. I felt a difference in my mechanics and luckily our instructor Dwayne Murphy and hitting coach Charles Poe spent a lot of time with me and we spent time in the cages hitting extra and working on getting back to that natural swing I had at the beginning of the season.\"

\r\nThat stretch was followed by an impressive second half to the season where he hit eleven of his sixteen home runs and recorded an OPS of 1.011 in the month of August. Interestingly, the two months where he seemed to want to try to elevate the ball more (June –only 34 GB%- and August –only 32 GB%-) were the two instances where his K% elevated well above his season average of 24.7%.

\r\nHowever, the numbers that demand the most attention are the ones he put up against both right-handed pitchers (.314/.383/.524) and southpaws (.311/.365/.527). Young hitters usually make the mistake of trying to put up huge power numbers instead of focusing on situational hitting, but Snider avoided that trap and even found out that doing the little things helped him achieved better overall results. He referred often to adjustments hitters must make against pitchers to remain productive, and talked about his approach.

\r\n\"The organization stresses you want to hit gap-to-gap and stay up the middle…but I'd say my approach is all pending on the situation of the game, what I need to do to move a guy over, grab a guy in, how a guy is pitching me sequence-wise, is he coming in or staying away. So it's really something that you don't change your approach, but your make adjustments as you go along and recognize how guys try to get you out.\"

\r\nHis focus coming into the 2008 Spring Training and next season will be on his defense in the outfield, where he recorded 16 errors this past season, the most of all Lansing Lugnuts outfielders.

\r\n\"I want to make sure that I'm 100% comfortable out there. When I get out there I want to understand situations, how to react to situations, where you throw the ball and hitting the cutoff man. \"I've been able to swing the bat pretty well for the past two years, but defensively it's gotten worse and I need to turn that around and get better.\"

\r\nWhen asked who was the filthiest pitcher he had faced so far in professional baseball, the outfielder answered Clayton Kershaw, a left-handed pitcher in the Dodgers organization.

\r\n\"He sits at 93-95 mph, which lefty on lefty makes it that much harder and he's got an absolute hammer. He'll throw it at your head and it'll drop back at the outside corner, you can only hope to foul it off.\"

\r\nWhile he needs to cut down on the strike outs, Travis Snider shows a rare ability to hit for power and average. What will be important for him is to round up his game, become a better fielder and be able to take some extra bases when the situation calls for it.

\r\nAs the first high-school pick of J.P. Ricciardi's tenure as Blue Jays General Manager, Snider represents the state of the farm system in the lower levels, where raw talent and good makeup can now give hope to Jays fans that the franchise can build and sustain a contender from within.

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