MadFriars' Interview: Travis Jankowski

LAKE ELSINORE - Travis Jankowski's season came to an end on August 18 with a sprained ankle he suffered off of the field but not before he finished the season with 71 stolen bases, which led the Cal League and was 20 stolen bases better than his nearest competitor.

It was a solid first full professional season for the left-handed hitting former Stony Brook Seawolf. The 2012 first round supplemental draft pick hit .286/.356/.355 and, as stated above, stole 71 bases in 85 attempts.

At 6'3", 190 lbs. he is considered a plus runner with the ability to eat up large chunks of center field on defense. The only real knock on him might be on his lack of power, with 26 extra-base hits in 547 plate appearances.

"I don't know if he gets dinged for not having enough power," said Shawn Wooten, his manager with the Strom.

"He hits a lot of balls to the opposite direction and I think its more of his swing path than his strength because he does make a lot of hard contact."

"He does have a lot of room to grow on his frame and I think its there."

How did you get hurt?

Travis Jankowski: It was just an off the field incident, nothing major. Sprained ankle, I just have to be off of it for a few weeks.

Was it like a basketball injury where you are on the side of your foot?

Travis Jankowski: Yeah, I just rolled over on it. Only it wasn't basketball [laughs] Yeah, I don't want to imply that it was basketball. I know that is in your guys contracts that you aren't supposed to be playing.

Travis Jankowski: Yeah, I know, I know. [laughs].

How was it playing your first full-season of pro ball?

Travis Jankowski: It was different. It was long but you also find out that it really is an up and down season with peaks and valleys. For the most part my body held up pretty well. Mentally I felt good and that really was the biggest thing to me, just being prepared to play everyday.

In college you always have more time to prepare because so many of the games are just on the weekend with the rest of the week to prepare.

Travis Jankowski: That is a major difference and a few 0-4 days back-to-back remind you of that. Getting a scouting report the day off the game instead of a week before is also a major difference.

How much scouting do you do at the A-ball level? I always thought it was just very basic.

Travis Jankowski: The coaches really do a good job here and we do have video from the home games. So we get an idea of pitches and locations.

How much of that do you try to process before you find you are getting away from what you want to do?

Travis Jankowski: My approach has always been to try to go to left-center but if the report reads that he likes to come in a lot then you have to take that into account.

The biggest thing for me is just sticking with my approach until you get to the two strike point and you have to adjust.

If you over analyze the scouting report it can hurt you and I have definitely done that. It is really all just about trial and error.

One thing I always think is a bit unfair is that your role is to play centerfield and bat lead-off. However, if you don't hit for enough power the critics will state that you need to hit for more power if you are going to be successful at higher levels.

But if you try going for more power and you are not successful, particularly if too many balls wind up in the air, then its, "Travis is getting away from what he does best."

How do you balance that?

Travis Jankowski: It is tough. The way I look at it is that as a lead-off hitter I am much more concerned with my on-base percentage than my batting average.

When I hear that I need to develop more power if it comes, it comes. I would like to have it, especially to put more doubles into the gaps, but if it never comes I can still go out there and play. Get some singles and with some stolen bases will turn them into doubles.

I always wonder about left-right guys like yourself. It just seems much more natural for someone like you to kind of "serve" the ball into left-center than to pull it.

Is that true?

Travis Jankowski: A lot of it is that I am right-hand dominant so most of my hits are to left-center. In the off-season I plan to do a lot more top hand, or left hand, drills to help me with my progression on pulling the baseball.

When I saw you in spring you looked a little bigger than you are now. How much weight have you loss playing in the heat?

Travis Jankowski: Since the day I walked into spring training I have lost about eight to ten pounds which isn't too bad. In the off-season you are lifting heavy and eating right and not having to stop for fast-food like you do during the season.

That is a really big thing, just eating right. My big goal is in the off-season to put on ten to fifteen pounds of sustainable weight. Most of the strength guys say that it should be in the lower half which won't cost me my speed and could even make me faster.

How have you been so successful this season in stealing bases?

Travis Jankowski: A lot of it is just that we have seen many of the same guys for awhile now. You start to make a note in your mind which guys will throw over multiple times and if its only once then it really helps you with your jumps.

Also pay attention to leg-kicks. If a guy is 1.5 to the plate, we can run all day. If he is 1.1 with a slide-step then you might want to shut it down.

Earlier in the year you told us one of your main keys is the back heel is that true?

Travis Jankowski: A very big key. If he lifts that back heel he has to come over.

Is your lead more about getting as far as you can or getting more of a rolling lead?

Travis Jankowski: Coming into the season it was more of a rolling lead but they told me it was too short. This year I have gotten more of a step to take away some of the close plays.

What is the biggest thing you are working on going into the off-season?

Travis Jankowski: Putting on more weight to get bigger and more explosive. Keeping my swing where it is at and not getting slower.


MadFriars Top Stories