It seems like every year the Blue Jays system churns out a pitcher that seemingly comes out of nowhere, Travis Bergen could be a 2016 break out candidate.
A 6’1″ 205 lb left-handed pitcher Travis Bergen was the Toronto Blue Jays 7th round pick in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft, taken with the 212th pick out of Kennesaw State.
— Canadian Baseball (@CDNbaseball) June 20, 2015
Travis signed with the Blue Jays on June 14, 2015 for $170K. He was assigned to the Toronto Blue Jays Northwest League Vancouver Canadians. Bergen threw 5.1IP in two relief appearances, allowing 2 hits, walking one and striking out 11 batters.
This tweet had me holding my breath after what turned out to be his final appearance,
— Niall O’Donohoe (@niall_odonohoe) June 28, 2015
It turned out to be a minor injury, and trainers attributed the elbow soreness to fatigue, as Travis had thrown 100.0 innings as a 21-yr-old for Kennesaw. It was decided to shut him down for the remainder of 2015.
Travis started 16 games in 2014, throwing 99.2 innings and followed that up with 14 starts (leading the Owls) in 2015. He finished his Owls career with 16 wins, 9 losses, 46 appearances, 30 starts, 215 IP, 2CG, 1SHO, 46 walks, and 178 K, while maintaining a 1.18WHIP, and 3.87 K/BB.
The native of McDonough, Georgia throws from a low-slot with a fastball that reaches the mid-90’s, but consistently sits between the high-80’s and and low-90’s.
When Bergen isn’t pounding the strike zone with his fastball, he throws a low-80’s slider, a high-80’s cutter, and an effective 80’s change. All his pitches show good depth to them, but are considered to be plus pitches at this point in his development.
In a recent Baseball America chat about the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system, John Manuel had this to say about Travis Bergen,
Bergen is a low-slot lefty, sort of like Girodo though if I recall correctly he’s not quite as low slot. He’s firmer than Girodo and has a better breaking ball. (full article)
The Kennesaw alumni throws a harder fastball than Girodo. If Manuel thinks that Travis Bergen has better breaking stuff than Chad Girodo, this LHP could have a strong 2016.
There are questions about whether Travis will or should stick as a starter. Travis could soar through the system if Toronto decides to put him in the bullpen. A move to the bullpen could benefit the lefty by potentially adding some velocity to his fastball, making him a dangerous LOOGY in the mold of Aaron Loup.
With his ability to throw over a 100 innings in 2016, Travis may still hold more value to the Blue Jays organization as a starter at this point. Especially, after all the LHP the Blue Jays off loaded at the 2015 trade deadline.
Travis Bergen is listed on the Vancouver Canadians roster, but it’s highly unlikely that he starts the year in the short season C’s roster. As a starter, Bergen should start the year with the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts to form a rotation that should have Angel Perdomo, Jon Harris and hopefully a healthy Tom Robson and Ryan Borucki. If Bergen struggles to keep the ball down in the zone, he will get hit hard and will end up in the pen. At that point he should finish the year in New Hampshire, showing strong strike out numbers and an ability to consistently get LHB out.
*Featured Image Credit: 3dpete UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.