Whitecaps' Travis utilizes speed, power

Second baseman shows off bat, wheels in win over Captains

Devon Travis hit three homers in 25 short-season games in 2012. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | April 22, 2013 7:25 PM ET

Until two days ago, Devon Travis had never seen snow before. For the Florida native who grew up 45 minutes north of Miami, that's just one of the challenges of moving up to the Midwest League.

In every other respect, however, the Tigers prospect is thriving in his new, colder climate.

In balmy 65-degree weather at Fifth Third Field on Monday evening, Travis went 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs in the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps' 8-4 win over the visiting Lake County Captains.

It was his first multi-homer game since turning pro last year and it marked the first time he ever smacked a ball over the fence and legged out an inside-the-park homer in the same game.

"Never in my life," Travis said of the accomplishment. "Maybe in a video game. The coolest game I've ever played in was with Connecticut when we won in 18 innings [last July 17], but for me personally, I believe this is my best.

"Before the game, I was in the locker room. I didn't feel great during batting practice and the music was so loud that I had to get out of there. I went to the cage with [hitting coach Scott Dwyer]  and he told me to let the ball get a little bit deeper and to keep my hands back. He told me it's OK to get jammed every now and then."

The Florida State product's five RBIs and 11 total bases were both career highs and he improved his team-best slugging percentage to .655 in the win.

Batting third and playing second base, Travis pulled a hanging breaking ball from Captains starter Luis DeJesus down the left-field line in the first inning for a two-run homer -- his third of the season.

"It was a 1-1 count and he had thrown me a curveball the pitch before so I was actually ready for a fastball," Travis said. "A lot of the time in the lower levels they don't go back to the same pitch they've just thrown.

"I don't know if I'd hit a curveball this year. I took two steps out of the box and almost ate it. It's a tough place to hit, but I was trying to hit it where the wind was blowing out."

Then in the third frame, the 22-year-old showed off another one of his tools, legging out an inside-the-park home run on a ball in the left-center field gap.

"I got back-to-back curveballs on 1-0 and 1-1 counts before, so I thought I was going to take the first pitch of the next at-bat, but I got a fastball and it was somewhere where I wanted it," he said.

"I was just praying [Luigi Rodriguez] didn't catch it. I saw him dive, but I didn't know he missed it. When I found out it got by him, I figured I would stop at third. I was hoping [manager Larry Parrish] would hold me up because I think I needed an oxygen tank, but he waved me home and I avoided the tag. I thought I was going to be out."

The last time the 5-foot-9 infielder homered twice in one game was during the 2012 Super Regionals in Tallahassee against Stanford -- and current teammate Jake Stewart -- in the buildup to the College World Series.

After lining out in the fifth, Travis slapped an opposite-field single to right field in the seventh and he laced a double that short-hopped the left-field wall to chase home two more runs in the eighth.

"It's been an adjustment," said Travis, who batted first or second last season with the Tigers. "You just have to have a totally different approach. I'm definitely not too fast, and I'm not slow, but you'll never see another inside-the-park home run from me again. I guarantee it.

"The whole thing has been an adjustment. I told my host family that I hadn't seen snow before and they were shocked. When it started coming down, about 10 guys came out of the clubhouse and were all taking photos."

Travis' offense made a winner of right-hander Yorfrank Lopez (2-0) who allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and a walk while striking out three batters over five innings.

Lake County starter DeJesus (0-2) surrendered six runs -- five earned -- on five hits over five innings. He struck out three batters and issued three free passes.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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