Padres Prospect Interview: Travis Chick

What were you doing when you found out the news that changed your life? <br><br> This writer was in my house when the wife came in and said she needed to go to the store because the pregnancy test she took must be broken since it came back positive.<br><br> What about if you had just been traded from the only organization you knew, the Florida Marlins, to the San Diego Padres? Oh and you, a 20 year old minor leaguer, were traded for 11 year veteran Ismael Valdez.

"I was in a gas station buying Gatorade to go to the park to pitch," Travis Chick explains of the deal that sent him westward. "I was starting that night. I was paying for my Gatorade and I got the call. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked."

Any player that is worthy of being traded for a Major League pitcher is in an elite class. Thirty years down the road when you are sipping lemonade on the back porch and reminiscing about the good ole days, the story may be more elaborate but the end result the same.

On the trading deadline, July 31, 2004, they traded Ismael Valdez for me.

Right now the story is slightly different for a young man still trying to find himself, especially when the friends chime in.

"It is definitely an honor," Chick said. "Honestly I had no idea that something like that would happen and when it did I was kind of floored. All of my friends were calling me to say, ‘Dude, you just got traded straight-up for a Big Leaguer!'"

With the news, a new life begins. The Irving, Texas native now calls Fort Wayne his home after playing with Greensboro of the South Atlantic League. And with the new start comes a surprise.

"The first thing I noticed is I went from a first place team to a last place team in one day," Chick joyfully said. Greensboro was 13-23 at the time of the trade while Fort Wayne was 20-14.

All of a sudden Chick joins a team with something to play for – a real chance at a playoff spot.

His first start saw him pick up the win. A five inning outing where he allowed two runs, one earned.

"You just start over," Chick said of the transition. "I am with a new organization now with new theories and new ideas on how to do things. They have already been talking to me about stuff they see that they want to make some tweaks here and there."

His second start wasn't as special. He surrendered six runs in five innings of work, taking a no decision.

It is part of the learning process as Chick settles in to a new area and a new league. His knowledge of the players is limited since this is his first exposure to the Midwest League.

The only players he knows are the ones who he has played against in the past. And two of those players are on the Fort Wayne squad.

"I know (Peter) Ciofrone and (Brett) Bonvechio from playing against them in the Sally League," Chick replied. "I know Matt Varner because he played at Angelina (Junior College) and that was the college I was going to go to before I signed. Other than that I don't know anybody."

As he learns the intricacies of his surroundings, Chick will always be able to reflect on how he got here. At the tender age of twenty, he was traded for a Major Leaguer. That is something to boast about for now.

In a few years, Chick hopes to come out on top. He wants to be referred to on the corner, at the deli, around the water cooler.

Says one Padre fan as he pours his Monday morning coffee: "To think, they got Travis Chick for Ismael Valdez!"

The reply from another fan reaching for the creamer: "The Marlins can't be feeling too good about that one. Talk about robbery."

For now Chick and his friends can joke about how he made it to San Diego, but the ultimate goal is to remind everyone that he was the Major Leaguer the Padres got in return.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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