Results tagged ‘ Travis Jankowski ’

A Close Contest, A Padre Makes History, YouTube Famous

It wasn’t an easy game Saturday night for the TinCaps, but the end result was exactly what they were looking for, as they edged out a 4-3 win over the Loons and earned a series victory.

Colin Rea had perhaps the most interesting night of all, as the righthander, who turns 22 today–so happy birthday, Colin–left the ballgame after six innings as the pitcher of record on the losing end. He didn’t have a poor outing, it’s just that things didn’t necessarily go his way.

He allowed a second-inning solo home run to Pratt Maynard, the catcher’s first homer of the year, putting the TinCaps in a 1-0 hole. Fort Wayne tied it up in the top of the third, but Great Lakes came back with another run in the third. Jeff Hunt hit a comebacker to the mound and was credited with a single, but Rea’s throw to first sailed down the right field line and Hunt got to third and later scored. In the sixth, Rea gave up another solo home run and left with Great Lakes on top 3-1.

So he leaves looking like he’ll be the losing pitcher until…

the top of the seventh inning rolls around. Travis Jankowski clubbed a two-run triple and was later singled home by Travis Whitmore, making it a three-run inning for the TinCaps.

Daniel Cropper’s ninth-inning was a little gut-wrenching as the first two runners reached base, but he reared back to retire three in a row and secure his seventh save of the year.

The TinCaps have now won three series in a row and sit in first place in the Eastern Division. Albeit very early in the half–just nine games in–this team has played a markedly different brand of baseball from the first 70 games.

Part of the reason the team has been so successful in the first half has been the pitching of Adys Portillo. His struggles in 2011 are well chronicled, a 3-11 record and a 7.11 ERA. This year, his 1.76 ERA is the best in the entire league. I chatted with him before Saturday’s game to talk about his great season. Among the highlights:

On playing winter ball in Venezuela:

“There are a lot of big league players there. I remember I faced Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, a lot of big leaguers. When I came this year to spring training and I saw the hitters, I felt really good about (my situation). Last year I tried to strike out everybody. This year I try to get a spot and hit that spot. This year I am a pitcher. Last year I just tried to throw the ball. Now I’m a pitcher.”

On confidence:

“When you’re a pitcher and you go to the mound and you have a confidence in your fastball and your breaking pitch, you just go out there and hit the spots. I say, ‘Ok, I’m gonna throw my fastball now and he doesn’t have a chance. He’s not gonna hit me. I’m gonna throw my breaking pitch and he’s gonna hit a ground ball.’ (Pitching Coach) Willie (Blair) told me to just think about when you’re going to throw the fastball, what’s going to happen after you throw the fastball.”

On pitching in the All-Star game and potential advancement:

“I remember I called my mom and said “Wow, Mom, I can’t believe it after I had a bad year last year and now I’m in the All-Star game, I got the ball for the first pitch, I started and I won.’ My goal is to finish at another level (this year) if that cannot happen, then I’m going to keep working hard here and see what happens next year. When I look at the numbers this year, I say ‘wow’, finally I’ve got some results because I’ve worked hard. Now I feel really good, I feel happy and I enjoy every time when I go to the mound.”

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my full conversation with Adys Portillo:

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A Seawolf Arrives, A Unique Circumstance, Baseball’s Fastest Man

A SEAWOLF ARRIVES

Outfielder Donavan Tate was promoted to Lake Elsinore on Thursday, leaving the TinCaps with an empty roster spot.  I pondered yesterday on the blog as to who might fill the spot, and then an answer came: Travis Jankowski.

The 44th overall pick in this June’s draft, the outfielder from Stony Brook University became the 22nd first or supplemental first-round pick to be sent to Fort Wayne since the Padres began their affiliation with the franchise in 1999.

After getting a 6AM flight from Arizona, Jankowski arrived at Dow Diamond shortly after 5:00 PM, and then promptly hit the field for batting practice wearing his #17 jersey. He hit leadoff for the TinCaps, meaning that for the first time all year, Jace Peterson hit somewhere other than in the number one spot. Fittingly, Peterson was as close as he could be and ended up hitting second.

An eager Jankowski, 21, swung at the first pitch he saw in a Fort Wayne uniform and blooped it into left field for a base hit. Unfortunately for the TinCaps, they’d only record three more hits for the rest of the game, with two of them coming in the ninth inning.

Jankowski is not the likeliest of candidates to have been drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He thought he’d end up playing college football, after only one school, Stony Brook University in New York, offered him a scholarship.

“I didn’t know where Stony Brook was or what a Seawolf was,” Jankowski told the New York Daily News.

But as baseball goes, if you can play, they will find you. This past summer, Jankowski won the MVP award in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, the nation’s top wood bat circuit for college players. He hit an astounding .329 there, where if players hit .229, it’s not a bad season. Most folks say that with the transition to a wood bat, losing 100 points off of your average is expected. This season on a run to the College World Series, he hit .412 and Stony Brook led the country with 52 wins.

Now he’s hitting leadoff for the TinCaps and he got the start in center field on Friday night, going 1-4 at the plate.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my conversation with Travis Jankowski:

A UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCE

Friday presented a situation which I’d never encountered: the power at the radio station that carries our games, 1380 ESPN, was out. A big storm swept through Fort Wayne on Friday afternoon, and according to some estimates left 80,000 people without power.

Because of this extreme circumstance, I was invited to join the radio broadcast of Brad Golder and Jared Sandler, the two radio guys for the Great Lakes Loons. Brad and Jared are two of my favorite guys in the league, and we had a great time getting to discuss one another’s teams. I give great thanks to them, and to ESPN 100.9 General Manager Jerry O’Donnell for having me on the air.

As it turns out, I was doing play-by-play for the fourth inning when the second Loons run scored. The Loons put up a ‘big play’ of the game on their video board at the end of the game, and it happened to be my call. I’m not sure if that makes me good luck or back luck. It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

With that, I hope to be back on 1380 ESPN tonight for our normal broadcast. Keep an eye on the TinCaps’ Twitter and Facebook pages, as if there is any update to the broadcast, I’ll post the information there. Thanks for your patience.

RECORD PACE

If you haven’t heard of Billy Hamilton, it’s not too late to learn about baseball’s fastest man. We’ve talked about him some on the blog this year, but I wanted to bring to your attention just how crazy a season this Reds’ farmhand is having. He played in Dayton last year and stole 103 bases in 135 games. This year, one level higher with Bakersfield of the California League, he’s already stolen 96 bases in 75 games. At the All-Star break he had stolen 80, putting him on pace for a record-shattering 160, which would demolish the record set in 1984. Vince Coleman, playing in 1984 for the Macon Redbirds of the South Atlantic League, stole 145 bases.

Watching Billy last year, you’d think “There’s no way anyone could break Coleman’s record.” Now you think, “How could he not break the record?”

The most stolen bases any TinCaps player has had in a game this year is two. Two weeks ago, Hamilton stole five bases in a single game.

Here’s part of a feature piece on Hamilton from The Greenville News:

“If I can pull the pitcher’s attention or even the infielders’ attention away from the hitter, I think it helps making it easier on my guy at the plate. I know what I am capable of. People come to see me steal bases, and that’s what I do. My goal every game is to steal bases and score runs.”

Hamilton doesn’t know what the Reds have planned for his future. The major league team already has a rookie shortstop in former Ole Miss standout Zach Cozart and veteran Brandon Phillips at second base.

A switch to the outfield or second base for Hamilton, who is rated as the Reds’ top minor league prospect, could hasten his move up the ladder.

For now, Hamilton is sticking with shortstop and his next step could be to Class AA Pensacola, Fla.

MUSICAL GUEST

The Rolling Stones…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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