FSL notes: Tigers' Travis dreams big

FSU standout brings his impressive resume to another level

Devon Travis is hitting .382 with two homers in 23 games for the Flying Tigers. (Tom Hagerty)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | July 31, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Devon Travis has never been very big, calling himself "always the shortest guy in the photo."

But the Lakeland second baseman has maintained large ambitions, and he has a chance to someday pull off a very big trifecta.

The 5-foot-9 Travis played in the Little League World Series and the College World Series. Could someday he add another World Series as well?

"You can always dream," he said.

Of course, Travis has to get to the Major Leagues first. But he has made himself a legitimate candidate with a breakout first full season, vaulting to No. 13 on MLB.com's list of Detroit Tigers prospects.

A 13th-round choice in the 2012 Draft, despite leading the College World Series with a .546 average for Florida State, Travis has far outpaced most players taken well ahead of him.

First, the right-handed batter hit .352 for West Michigan, capping his time in Class A by taking MVP honors in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Then he didn't miss a beat after being moved up to the Class A Advanced Florida State League.

In fact, Travis has hit even better.

The 22-year-old has at least one hit in 20 of his first 23 games with Lakeland and is batting .382.

In 100 combined games for the season, Travis has a .359 average with 23 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 52 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. He has 42 walks to 43 strikeouts and a slash line of .431/.493/.924.

Not bad for a middle infielder who continues to put defense ahead of offense.

"I've always taken the most pride in my fielding," Travis said. "That's what comes first."

In fact, he takes the assessment of his talent one step further.

"I never really considered myself that great of a hitter," Travis said.

But his numbers this season say otherwise, and the reason behind them could be simple.

"I've been able to stay healthy, knock on wood," said Travis, who underwent knee surgery and had a broken hamate bone in college.

But it was his size that impacted his Draft standing. Travis was disappointed to see round after round go by.

"I had to let go of my pride a little bit," he said.

Travis strongly considered returning to Florida State for his senior year but decided to finally sign after Detroit offered him an above-slot bonus of $200,000.

It was money well spent by the Tigers.

Travis showed that when he homered in his first Grapefruit League at-bat this spring when called on as a late-game fill-in.

"It was crazy," said Travis, an unlikely pinch-hitter for Victor Martinez. "I think I got around the bases in about 10 seconds."

The excitement was a flashback to his Little League days.

Travis' team from East Boynton Beach, Fla., reached the championship game of the 2003 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., before losing to Japan.

"When you're 12, you really can't grasp the magnitude of what's going on," Travis said. "You're living the dream and just having fun. I wish I had been able to appreciate it more."

But Travis isn't looking back -- he's looking ahead.

Making the Major Leagues is his goal. A chance to play in another World Series would definitely be a very big dream come true.

In brief

Perfect night: Jupiter outfielder Brent Keys went 4-for-4 with a walk and stole three bases Monday against Brevard County, raising his Florida State League-leading average to .352. He's hitting .370 in July and has a .425 average (17-for-40) in his past 10 games. Keys, Miami's No. 18 prospect, won the South Atlantic League batting title with a .335 average for Greensboro last year. Keys, 22, was a 17th-round pick in the 2009 Draft by the Marlins out of high school.

Streak snapped: Tampa center fielder Mason Williams had his hitting streak snapped at 15 games after going 0-for-4 against Charlotte on Friday. The New York Yankees' No. 2 prospect hit .406 during the streak, going 26-for-64 with six doubles, a triple and six RBIs. Included was a four-hit game at Palm Beach on July 23. Through Monday, he had hit .350 since the All-Star break to raise his average to .277. Williams, 21, was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 Draft.

Rolling along: St. Lucie right-hander Matthew Bowman improved his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.42 with six scoreless innings in a victory at Lakeland on Friday. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four. Bowman, a 13th-round pick by the New York Mets in the 2012 Draft out of Princeton University, has a WHIP of 1.07 and 78 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings. He started the season 4-0 with Class A Savannah.

Under the radar: Palm Beach outfielder David Popkins is not listed among the league batting leaders, but that's because he doesn't have quite enough plate appearances to qualify. Signed by St. Louis last year after going undrafted out of college, the 22-year-old switch-hitter is batting .338 in 61 games with 25 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs. Popkins, a two-way player at UC Davis, started the season in the Class A Midwest League.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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