The last time the Fisher Cats came into Trenton, I got the chance to sit down with top Toronto farmhand Travis Snider for a few minutes.
Here’s how it went…
Mike Ashmore: The Toronto Blue Jays drafted you with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft. Take me back to draft day, what was that like for you?
Travis Snider: “It was a pretty exciting time for me, my family and my friends. We all got together. There had been a lot of hype going into it because I had a great senior year, I was with all of my best friends playing baseball. Fortunately, things worked out for the best and we were able to celebrate with the right people. It was a pretty special day that I’m never going to forget.”
Ashmore: You played football in high school as well. Was there ever a point where you had to make a choice between the two sports, or was it always going to be baseball for you?
Snider: “Injuries are basically the reason why I quit playing football. I fractured my ankle and tore all my tendons, I did that in the spring of my sophomore year. I played varsity as a freshman and sophomore, so I was getting recruited for football and baseball by Division 1 schools. It really just came down to choosing my career in baseball over the potential of getting injured playing football again. I’d already had surgery and have metal in my ankle. Things picked up on the professional side, getting scouted and talking to more professional scouts saying I had a chance to be an early pick. Injuries are going to be the only thing that holds you back, other than going out there and not performing. It was a tough decision for me, but it was a decision I needed to make.”
Ashmore: A lot of people thought you’d be starting the season with the Fisher Cats, but instead you started in A-Ball. Were you surprised by that at all?
Snider: “No. Basically, I’d been having elbow problems since spring training and I was DH’ing all the way through big league camp and didn’t play at all in minor league camp. The organization decided they wanted me to start in Florida where the weather’s a little warmer and start a throwing program down there. We ended up moving ahead of schedule and getting sent up here just to DH. They wanted me to play the outfield before I came to Double-A. Everything was on schedule before the season, but injuries obviously changed that. But that’s part of the game, and that’s something I’m learning this season, is how to deal with injuries and how to recover and come back and try to play the way I know I can.”
Ashmore: You’ve hit pretty much wherever you’ve been, but you’re struggling a little bit so far this season. Is it frustrating for you to finally have to deal with some extended adversity at the plate?
Snider: “It was real frustrating for a period of time. I don’t like to make excuses, but there are some definite holes in my swing. I solely believe that it had to do with timing, and it had to do with swing mechanics, and a lot of my mechanics are affected by me trying to protect my back elbow. Those are things that you’ve got to make adjustments with, and I’ve had a great support system around me. Not only the coaching staff, but the players. I’ve felt like in the last two or three weeks, I’ve started to have higher quality at-bats and draw more walks. The strikeouts are at a position I never want them to be at, but you look back on it and say what can you do, and the only thing you can do learn from it. As I start to feel more comfortable in the box, as I have the past week and half or two weeks, I’ll start to swing the bat like I can. I understand that I’ve struggled since I’ve been up here, but I feel like I’m on an uphill climb now. My confidence is back. It’s tough when you’re not winning ballgames, but we’ve got some guys around me to give me that support in the lineup and hopefully as a team we can get everything rolling on all cylinders and we can pick each other up a little bit better.”
Ashmore: Baseball America has you rated as the number one prospect in the Blue Jays organization this year. When you see something like that, does that mean something to you?
Snider: “I’d say it’s an honor, but at the same time, it’s an accolade you win off the field. You’ve still got to go out there and perform every day, whether you’re a first round pick, the number one prospect. You’re going to hear it from the guys in the clubhouse, and you’re going to get crap for it. But that goes with the territory. For me, I just try to go out there and play my game. Whether it’s the number one prospect in the Blue Jays organization or an eighth year free agent in Double-A, I have the same respect for everybody here and I feel like guys respect me with everything I have to go through. Being 20 years old and having these accolades above my head that people like to joke about and things like that. It’s definitely an honor, but at the same time you’ve got to stay humble and understand that you can be the number one prospect and still hit .200 through the month of May. So what does it really mean. Obviously, if you have some talent, you’ve got to go out there and perform.”
Ashmore: Do you feel like all the accolades around you has kind of increased the hype around you, or considering how well known you were even back in high school, do you feel like it’s kind of always been this way?
Snider: “I feel like it’s been there since I was 14 years old. I don’t feel like I’ve been pressing to try to be the number one prospect. It’s not even crossed my mind through all this. From a confidence standpoint, when you’re striking out 60 times in 150 at-bats, that has nothing to do with where your prospect status is. That has to do with your timing, and your swing mechanics, and your pitch selection and your approach. None of that stuff…it’s completely separate in my mind. I don’t think it’s crossed my mind once: Oh God, I’m the number one prospect, but I’m struggling. That doesn’t mean anything to me, personally. I’ve always been successful, and now I’m dealing with failure more often than I have in the past. It’s a good learning experience for me now at 20 years old versus somewhere down the road at an older age when I’m not ready to deal with it.”
Ashmore: Any timetable in mind for when you’d like to get to the big leagues?
Snider: “As soon as possible. Obviously, my goals are at the end of this year, and if not this year then whenever. Realistically, in the next couple years. For me, it’s something…I understand I’m going to get there when I get there, and it’s still a long road and nothing’s set in stone. I just try to go out one day at a time every day and take every at-bat and every pitch for what it is and not take it for granted. If you get caught up worrying about when you’re going to get called up and when you’re going to get to Double-A, low-A and high-A and those type of things…that was something I learned last year, you’ve still got to perform every day no matter where you’re at and allow the other things to take care of themselves. My goals are as soon as possible in the next couple of years, but at the same time I trust the organization to make the right decision and we’ll just go from there.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com