Earlier this month San Diego Padres minor league outfielder Travis Jankowski had an impressive streak going while playing for the San Antonio Missions. Jankowski had reached base in 27 straight games from the lead-off position.
That streak ended after a 0-4 game vs the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros AA affiliate) on May 12th. The winning pitcher that day for the Hooks was Lance McCullers. Son of former Padres pitcher Lance Graye McCullers. Six days later, McCullers made his major league debut against the Oakland Athletics.
Jankowski has great baseball instincts and is easily the best defender in the upper Padres farm system. The skilled left-hand hitting outfielder is currently hitting .342 with 15 stolen bases and 21 walks in 38 games and 146 at bats. His .425 on base percentage is exactly what you want from a lead-off man. Jankowski has a knack for getting on base, and that will transition well into the major leagues someday.
The 6′ 2″ center fielder was the Padres #1 pick (44th overall) in the supplemental round of the 2012 draft. Jankowski had an amazing 2011 year in college where he was named the Cape Cod League MVP then led NCAA Division One baseball in runs(79), hits(110) and triples(11). He led Stoney Brook College to an improbable College World Series birth. An impressive year for the young outfielder.
Jankowski’s entire baseball game revolves around his speed. He has a very level swing and will never be a prolific power hitter. He could develop deceptive power in time, but at the moment he is a line drive hitter. That is perfectly fine though, you do not want your lead-off hitter up there swinging from his heels.
Jankowski is also known as a very skilled bunter. That is a lost art in the game today. With the day and age of infield shifts, its amazing that more players do not try to utilize their speed and lay down a bunt. A lead-off hitter than can utilize this skilled art holds a special place in my heart.
After being drafted by the Padres, Jankowski totaled 493 at bats for the Lake Elsinore Storm in advanced A level baseball. He hit .286 that year with one homer and 38 RBI’s. Jankowski stole 71 bases and walked 54 times resulting in a .356 on base percentage. Very solid number for his first season in professional baseball. He looked poised to have a great year in 2014, but was sidelined in April with a broken wrist. He did play in 46 games and stole 17 bases while hitting .236. The wrist issue limited his offensive abilities.
The future is very bright for this 23-year-old speedster. He might make an appearance at some point this season with the Padres. It would not surprise me at all. Jankowski has shown he is an advanced player and at his age, he could conceivably contribute to the Padres right now. I mean a left-handed hitting lead-off man, who plays center field and plays it well. It’s like a dream come true.
He is still very raw and you really do not want to rush a player like this. Jankowski needs to cultivate his craft in the minor for at least the next few hundred at bats. The man has a lot of upside and could very easily be a pivotal part of the Padres future. We will just have to keep an eye on his progress.