MadFriars' Interview: Travis Jankowski

Travis Jankowski, 21, was one of three supplemental first round picks by the Padres in the 2012 draft and the only college player that they selected in their first four picks.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native is the classic late bloomer as the former two time all-state player only received one scholarship offer coming out of high school to Stony Brook College on Long Island.

During his three year career at Stony Brook compiled a .366/.431/.506 line including this season when he led the team with a .414 average and a trip to the College World Series.

The left-handed center fielder's game is about speed and driving the ball into the gaps and if he can reach his potential seems custom made for PETCO.

San Diego assigned Jankowski to Fort Wayne, which is not an easy task to step into a full-season league just out of college with aluminum bats and the transition was a little slow with after his first ten games he was hitting .200.

However as TinCaps announcer Mike Couzens reminded everyone, last year's top pick Corey Spangenburg didn't exactly set the Midwest League on fire after being promoted from Eugene and Travis didn't have the luxury of getting settled in a short-season league.

Travis was gracious enough to give us a few minutes after his workout on Friday.

You're from Lancaster, Pennsylvania where you were a two-time all-state player. How did you end up at Stony Brook?

Travis Jankowski: I went to a showcase in Tropicana Florida and Coach Pennuci [the Stony Brook head coach] was there. He was the only coach that approached me and he wanted me to come out to Stony Brook in Long Island, which is about four hours from my home in Lancaster.

I went out there and really liked everything about the school and the program.

How does someone that is a two-time all state player only get one scholarship offer?

Travis Jankowski: Lancaster is a small town and the baseball competition isn't the same as it is in places like Florida, California or other places in the country. It was just one of those things but it all worked out for me.

You also played four years of varsity football. What position and why did you pick baseball?

Travis Jankowski: I was a receiver and cornerback. I always liked football, and had some college offers, but my Dad and my football coach let me know that some 250 lbs. linebackers were going to crush me at the next level.

So it wasn't that hard a choice for me to go with baseball.

In 2011 you were the MVP of the Cape Cod League. How much experience had you had hitting with wood and why did you do so well?

Travis Jankowski: After my freshman year I went to Kentucky and played in a wood bat league there. I'd never really played with it before but I seemed to adjust rather quickly.

Last year I was on the Cape and my coach there, Ted Reagan, [his manager with the Bourne Braves] got me shorter and quicker to the ball. We did lot of work in the cage and on the field, but he really helped me quite a bit.

Stony Brook had a magical year and got quite a bit of national attention with its College World Series run? What is the biggest memory you are going to take from this time?

Travis Jankowski: The whole playoff run was incredible. When we got to the College World Series and the city of Omaha just adopting us the way that they did made it even more special.

Throw in the fact that our families and fans came out, over 25,000 people a game and it was really special.

Talk about being drafted by the Padres. Was the experience like you thought it would be?

Travis Jankowski: It happened right after our regional in Florida where we had just beaten UCF and were moving on. We had a big dog pile celebration which was just nuts.

So about ten minutes later I get a call in the parking lot and go somewhere to take the call in private is when I found out. I came back and told my family, then my teammates and everyone else and another dog pile celebration began.

So it was really a special day.

You have a unique hitting style in that you are not seen as a home run hitter but not as a slap one either. How do you see yourself as a hitter?

Travis Jankowski: I see myself as mainly a contact hitter who tries to drive the ball. I want to use my speed and work the gaps and am always looking to take the extra base.

You've only played in fifteen pro games so far. What have you noticed about the pro game compared to college?

Travis Jankowski: The wood bat of course is a big difference but so are the pitchers. Here they are not just trying to get you out with the fastball but they usually have two other pitches. That is the biggest thing that I am trying to adapt too right now.

How are you holding up physically and mentally? Is this the most games that you have ever played?

Travis Jankowski: Physically my body feels great. The training staff here has been tremendous. Mentally I'm hanging in there. It's been a tough start but everyone on the team has let me know that it is what everyone goes through too.

Last question, how did you get to be a left-handed hitter?

Travis Jankowski: It's always just been a natural thing. My dad is the opposite, left-handed who hits from the right side so that may have had something to do with it. He told me that it was the first way I picked up a bat and a golf club.

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