MadFriars' Interview: Travis Whitmore

PEORIA, AZ: Travis Whitmore was taken in the thirty-fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Pitt by the San Diego Padres.

While being picked that late might have put some players in a funk, Whitmore did what he's always done; picked up his glove and bat and went to work. He made the post-season Northwest League all-star team and saw action at three different infield positions last year. Whitmore, 23, finished second on the team in hits and extra-base hits.

Before going to Pitt, where he hit .353/.400/.511 in two seasons with the Panthers, he starred at Indian Hills JC, the same school that last season's first pick Cory Spangenberg attended, hitting .310 as a freshman and .390 as a sophomore.

This year with the TinCaps he's been the team's best hitter at .352/.407/.577 and has seen time at first, second and third.

Throughout his career the Burlington, Iowa native has always been the player that critics like to point out what he can't do or what competition he hasn't played against. While that analysis may have some validity one fact overrides all of those opinions.

There still hasn't been a team, or really league, where Whitmore was not one of the better players competing.

We caught up with Travis at the end of spring training before he departed to the Midwest League.

You were a late round draft pick out of Pitt and had a good season with Eugene last year. What were the reasons behind your success?

Travis Whitmore: Being a late round pick and a senior sign really motivated me to get in there early and stay late. I wanted to prove people wrong and that was my motivation for the year and kind of my entire baseball career.

You are up there in the Northeast so you probably didn't get that much attention. Were you kind of surprised you were picked that late or did you just hope someone would give you an opportunity?

Travis Whitmore: I was hoping to be taken on the second day but in reality I was just hoping to go somewhere and get a chance. That is all you can really ask for.

Playing with a wooden bat is a big adjustment after using aluminum. Did you have much experience hitting with wood?

Travis Whitmore: Yes, I used wood in the two summers that I played in the Northwoods League [a college summer league] and did all right there. When I was in junior college we used wood during batting practice.

In games we used aluminum but it was a good way to get used to wood. The learning curve was a little less for me.

Last year you played second, third and even some short. From what I've seen here you have been playing a lot of third. Is that where you think you will be playing this season?

Travis Whitmore: Yeah but wherever they put me I'll play. As you said I played quite a few places, even a little first. As a late round guy you can't be too picky.

I would even be willing to go into the outfield because its only going to help me more down the road.

What was the biggest thing you learned playing professionally last year?

Travis Whitmore: The major adjustment was just the everyday aspect that most guys say. The one big thing that was really kind of different for me was how much you are on your own in the pros.

In college they have a couple of guys that will kind of baby you through things here its a little different. The coaches will help you but its also your job now. You have to figure out a way for you to get through it.

Its about becoming a professional.

One of the players here Connor Powers said that a college coach tells you what to do a pro coach offers suggestions.

Travis Whitmore: Exactly, its just your job and you have to perform. You have to get the job done at the end of the year.

As we discussed, you had a good year in Eugene so you kind of put yourself on the map. What was the main thing you worked on this winter?

Travis Whitmore: Some things on my swing, staying inside the ball and not hooking so many pitches. The main thing I worked on was defense because the more positions that I can play, the more it will help me in the future.

The previous organization used to really preach patience but in the game that I just watched you play, you are a pretty aggressive hitter. If you see a fastball early you are going after it.

Travis Whitmore: I've always been a fastball hitter and if they are going to throw it up there and I can get my barrel around it, I'm taking a rip at it. That has always been my approach.

It can change during the season when there are scouting reports running around out there, but yeah, I like the fastball.

How did you get to be a left-handed hitter?

Travis Whitmore: I got my Dad to thank for that one. He said when I was little I always used to grab the bat right-handed and he would spin me around.

You are always much more valuable as a left-handed hitter because most of the pitchers throw from the right side. I've always told him that if he hadn't done that I would be working a job somewhere.

Because hitting left-handed is one of the best things I have going for me.

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