Vetters Is Still Here- And Doing Fine

It happens every season. The teams in the lower classifications begin play only to discover there's a shortage of players at a particular position. Usually it's pitchers. But in the case of the Gulf Coast Dodgers last summer it was outfielders that they particularly lacked.

So the call went out to the scouts asking if there was anybody in their area that hadn't been drafted who might qualify- as a fill-in, you understand. And Hank Jones, who scouts the Pacific Northwest, thought there was such a player at the University of Portland.

Jones knew his Portland players well. After all, his son Joe had pitched for them and had just been drafted by the Dodgers, giving Hank the pleasure of signing his own boy. He had seen the team play every chance he got so he believed Travis Vetters might do so he signed him as well.

Thus, last year, Travis found himself a member of a team that made it all the way to the final game of the playoffs before missing the league title. Good club and it would be nice to say that Travis made them better. Only it didn't work that way. He didn't play much- only 14 games. He hit even less- just six hits in 41 at-bats which averages out to a lowly .146. Home runs? Nada. Runs batted in ? Exactly one.

Players who come in like Vetters did are always given a chance the following spring but there's no guarantee that comes with that. Often they fall out, frequently voluntarily, deciding that some other occupation suits their interests.

But Vetters showed a lot more than he had the previous year. So much more that Ogden manager Jeff Carter (who hadn't been around for Vetters circa 2006), not only gave him a chance but had him in the starting lineup opening day.

Now the story takes an upturn for Travis is making the most of the opportunity. He's hitting .314. Not bad at all but in the power department, there's even better news for as of today he has 13 home runs.

For a time he even led the league in that department but recently Clint Robinson of Idaho Falls has overtaken him. The race hasn't been decided yet for Robinson only has one more.

Regardless of who wins that title, Vetters, the misfit of a year ago, has found his niche. It would be nice to report that he's now regarded as a prime prosect but the truth is he'll be 24 next month so he's more than a bit on the geriatric side for rookie ball.

But he's a solid 6-2, 190-pounder with a controlled swing and that means he'll get his shot once, more. Of course he'll have to prove himself at every level but he'll get a chance to move up. And if he keeps sending balls flying out like he has this season he'll stick around.

Pretty nice for a guy that was supposed to be only a temporary employee.