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Travis excited for chance to start at second in '15

Acquired from Tigers, Blue Jays' No. 9 prospect to compete with Goins, Izturis
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Devon Travis' path to the Major Leagues was blocked in Detroit, but Wednesday night's trade to the Blue Jays has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the promising infield prospect.

Travis appears to be Toronto's second baseman of the future -- and possibly even the present -- after he was dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for center fielder Anthony Gose.

TORONTO -- Devon Travis' path to the Major Leagues was blocked in Detroit, but Wednesday night's trade to the Blue Jays has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the promising infield prospect.

Travis appears to be Toronto's second baseman of the future -- and possibly even the present -- after he was dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for center fielder Anthony Gose.

With Ian Kinsler firmly in place at second base for the Tigers, there was essentially nowhere for Travis to go, but the Blue Jays' lack of internal options up the middle means he could be the starter as soon as Opening Day.

"I'm just excited," Travis said during a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. "Obviously finding out [Wednesday] night, it definitely shocked me a little bit. Not in the sense that I never thought it would happen, I guess it's just crazy because this is my first time ever dealing with anything like this.

"I'm just so excited, the opportunity to play with guys like [Marcus] Stroman, [Aaron] Sanchez, Drew Hutchison, who I played with here in Florida. It's something that's pretty incredible, and I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity."

Detroit explored the possibility of moving Travis to center field earlier this year. Kinsler is signed through 2017 and wasn't going to move any time soon, which meant the Tigers had to either find a new position or a new home for a player who Baseball America recently named the club's top overall prospect. Travis is ranked as Toronto's No. 9 prospect by MLB.com.

In the end, the Tigers decided to end the experiment of a new position before it really began. Detroit was able to acquire a natural center fielder in Gose, while the Blue Jays had some depth to spare after prospect Dalton Pompey emerged as a potential long-term solution late in the season.

Travis can settle back into his natural position at second. That's where he has always played, and from a Blue Jays perspective, it gives them someone who can play solid defense up the middle while also possessing an above-average contact rate at the plate.

"It's definitely the place I'm most comfortable at," Travis said. "But at the same time, I've always been the type of guy that you can tell me to bat first, you can tell me to bat ninth, you can tell me to play left, you can tell me to catch. I just want to play.

"[Detroit] asked if I wouldn't mind moving to center field to see how that went. I was on board, it was something that was giving me an opportunity to make my dream come true. I was actually having a good time out there, but definitely second base is like home to me. I never really envisioned myself as a center fielder. I was just doing everything I can to help the team win."

Taken by Detroit in the 13th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Travis recently completed his first full season as a professional and hit .298 with an .817 OPS in 100 games. He added 37 extra-base hits while striking out 60 times in 396 at-bats.

Most of the scouting reports indicate that the 5-foot-9 infielder has surprising power for his size. Most of that is gap power as opposed to a high number of home runs, but Travis doesn't strike out a lot and has a superior ability to put the ball in play compared to other players at his stage of development.

The question is whether Travis can bypass Triple-A and make the Blue Jays' roster out of Spring Training. That won't be answered until Toronto's plans for the offseason become clearer, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos did indicate that unless another move is made, Travis will at least have an opportunity to compete for the job alongside veteran Maicer Izturis and 26-year-old Ryan Goins.

During his 15-minute conference call with reporters, Travis came across as a modest player who clearly didn't want to speak out of turn. At the same time, the native of West Palm Beach, Fla., does feel like he's ready to take the next step of his career.

"Obviously this year was a big test for me and I felt pretty comfortable," Travis said. "Last year's Spring Training was my first big league Spring Training. The biggest thing that I found out is that the guys up there, they just do such a great job of sticking to their plan and never actually venturing off from their plan even when they're struggling.

"I think that's the biggest thing that I'm continuing to work on ... They always believe, even when things are going wrong. I think on the field, I don't want to come out and say that I'm ready now to do well in the big leagues, but I do believe in myself and I do believe that I could play in the big leagues today."

Travis seems to be the type of player who could quickly become a fan favorite in Toronto. The city seems to fall in love with players who might not have the best skill set in the world but play with a certain attitude.

It has become cliche to refer to these types of ballplayers as "gritty," but when talking to Travis, it also becomes clear that he identifies with a certain brand of baseball that could go over well with the fan base and more importantly his new teammates.

"I've always been the smallest guy on my team from 5 years old and up," Travis said. "I'm just the little guy that's always dirty, diving for no reason trying to make plays that I know I'm not going to make, just little things like that. Coming to the field every day and bringing everything I have.

"I have to come to the ballpark every single day and give it 110 percent. I know that's what I have to do. It's something I've grown to love, just going to the field every day, never taking a day off, never taking a pitch off, never take an inning off. As long as I go to the field every day and bring that same mentality, that's all I can ask out of myself."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays