MadFriars' Interview: Travis Whitmore

FORT WAYNE, IN -- Last time we caught up with Travis Whitmore, the Padres' thirty-fifth round draft pick in the 2011 draft, was in spring training after a solid year with the Eugene Emeralds.

Whitmore, 23,talked about the transition to pro ball and as a late round draft pick making the most of your opportunities.

With six weeks into the season with the TinCaps he has been one of the team's better players seeing action at first, second and third base.

At the plate the left-handed hitter is in the top three for nearly every offensive category with the only negative being some difficulty with left-handed pitching.

Most players initially struggle when they come to Fort Wayne. Was your hot star on account of growing up in a place like Iowa?

Travis Whitmore: I grew up playing in the cold and at Pitt I was playing spring ball in the cold, so I grew up with a lot of experience playing in it.

I like to think that I have a mental edge and not think that I just have to get through it. I like to try to go the opposite way and think that I have an opportunity to prove to people what I can do.

Really I try to do that everyday on the field. Try to find something to motivate me to give me an edge.

For someone that wasn't thought to have that much power you are one of the leaders in slugging percentage. Did you do anything in the off-season to try to increase your power?

Travis Whitmore: I worked really hard in the off-season in the weight room and put on about ten solid pounds. So that has helped.

I also worked really hard on my approach. Last year I was top-spinning balls that would fall in front of the right fielder for a single. Now I'm getting a little more back-spin and they are carrying farther.

So its a combination of both getting a little bit stronger and having a little bit better approach in correcting some of the mechanical flaws in my swing.

You can get much stronger but isn't it more important the later part of what you just spoke, improving your mechanics will increase your power?

Travis Whitmore: Sure. You can be as big and strong as you want but if you can't translate it into a game with a 90 mph fastball its not going to do you much good. A lot of it with me is that I've gotten older and have been able to refine my approach much more.

I have a long ways to go but it has helped me so far this year.

In spring you were playing a lot of third base and now with the injury to Jose Dore you have seen a lot of action at first base. To me it seems like a tougher position than most would think because you are handling the ball so much.

How much first base have you played in the past?

Travis Whitmore: I played a little bit in junior college. I never played any first base at Pitt. But if you have played other positions around the diamond then its a little easier to transition too.

Whitmore has seen time at first, second and third this season.

I've actually been surprised how difficult its been from holding runners on to turning the double play. My background at second, short and third has really helped.

It seems to me just the footwork at first, especially being right-handed, would be an easy place to make a lot of errors.

Travis Whitmore: There are little things at each position that you have to learn but its much better in pro ball because you can get here five hours before the game and work on stuff.

Last time we talked you spoke about wanting to play as many positions so you could have the best chance of making the major leagues.

In addition to just trying to hit, how many different positions are you working on?

Travis Whitmore: Wherever I am in the line-up is where I start taking my ground balls. When the third group hits is when I start going to second and third and mixing in second and third.

Its a little extra work but I can't complain. I'm getting paid to play pro baseball so its hard to ask for anything more.

Its just been a lot of fun.

I take it you played shortstop in high school?

Travis Whitmore: Yup, shortstop in high school. In Junior College and at Pitt I played second, third and a little bit of outfield.

You had a good high school career but because it was in Iowa maybe you didn't get the recognition you deserve.

Then you went to one of the best JC's in the country, Indian Hills in Florida and also put up good numbers. For some reason people weren't sure if you were a Division I player but you still got to go to Pitt in the Big East and had a really good career.

Late draft pick, but you still had one of the better years in Eugene. Now you come here and you are putting up good numbers again.

This has to give you some satisfaction, doesn't it? People can write or opine all they want but you'll have to take production over recognition.

Travis Whitmore: That has always kind of been my thing. We talked about having a mental edge and I've always had something to prove everyday.

Whether it was high school and getting overlooked by Division I schools. In Junior College I didn't have any offers until after my sophomore year and as you said I didn't get drafted after my junior year and was a senior sign for the pros.

I haven't changed my approach since I've been playing ball. I think I have something to prove everyday.


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