Join Jays From the Couch as we highlight one of the best relief pitchers in the Blue Jays farm system, lefty Travis Bergen
The Toronto Blue Jays have not had much luck drafting player from Kennesaw State. They selected Max Pentecost in 2014 and Travis Bergen in the 7th round of the 2015 Draft. Both players have spent more time on the trainer’s table than they’ve spent on the field. However, both players continue to show that competitive edge needed to succeed at the next level and both players appear healthy in 2018.
When Bergen was drafted, scouts were impressed with his low to mid 90’s fastball. Scouts felt Bergen’s slider, cutter, and change needed work if he were to be successful as a starter. As a member of Kennesaw State, Bergen made 30 starts and 16 relief appearances and finished with a record of 16-9 and 3.10 ERA. Bergen finished his college career with a 1.18 WHIP, 1.93 BB/9, and 7.46 K/9.
In 2015, the 6-foot-1 lefty made his professional debut on June 23rd for the Vancouver Canadians. He pitched 3.0 innings, walking one batter, and striking out 8 for his first win as a Blue Jays farmhand. He pitched 5 days later, lasting 2.1 innings for another win. On July 13th, Travis Bergen’s season came to an end.
Bergen’s frustrations continued into 2016. The native of McDonough, GA., made his season debut nearly a year after tossing final pitch of 2015 on July 9th. After 3 appearances with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, Travis Bergen once again was a member of the Vancouver Canadians. Unfortunately, his season would come to an early end in Vancouver for a second straight season as he tossed his final pitch of 2016 on July 27th.
2017 was much the same for Travis Bergen. He started the season late on July 25th, nearly a year after his 2016 season ended, with the GCL Blue Jays before heading to Vancouver. This time it was the season which ended and marked the first time that Bergen finished a season. Despite throwing just 18.1IP in 2017 and pitching as a 23-yr-old in short season A-Ball and Rookie-Ball, the 2017 season was a success.
Heading into the 2018 season there were several bullpen arms which I felt had a chance at making their MLB debut at some point throughout the year. Guys like Zach Jackson, Kirby Snead, Jackson McClelland, and Danny Young. I wouldn’t say that I’d given up on Bergen, I didn’t have any expectations for him.
Travis Bergen made his 2018 debut with the Dunedin Blue Jays on April 5th. Bergen started the season on time, healthy and not on the DL. This only makes 2018 a success but he made it clear right away that going to be enough. Over the next eight weeks, the D-Jays lefty tossed 21.0 innings which marked the most inning he’d thrown in his professional career.
He kicked off his D-Jays career with 5 scoreless outings, throwing 6.1 IP and striking out 12 and walking just two batters while also throwing multiple innings twice (2.0IP and 2.1IP). Other than allowing 3 runs in a 0.2IP on April 27th, Travis Bergen was nearly perfect as a member of the D-Jays.
The month of May saw the left-handed reliever throw 12.2 scoreless innings across 9 appearances. Bergen walked just 2 batters, struck out 17, and held opponents to a .163 batting average for a 0.71 WHIP. This was too much to ignore and on June 1st Travis Bergen was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. He has joined Jackson, Young, and Snead in the Fisher Cats bullpen.
Despite making just three AA appearances, Bergen is quickly proving he was ready for the promotion. In 5.1IP, he has not allowed a run (allowed an inherited run but….) or a walk while striking out 3 batters and holding opponents to a .238 batting average.
Despite the injuries, Bergen continues to pound the strike zone with low to mid 90’s fastball. In his last outing, he consistently touched 93 mph with his fastball and showed good movement on his cutter and slider. He still does a good job of hiding the ball, starting his delivery with his glove at his hips and his back almost to the batter.
I expect that Bergen will continue to show good command which should allow him to maintain an excellent WHIP and be an effective late-inning reliever. He has the makes of a reliever capable of making the jump straight to the major leagues.
Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Notice the change from year to year.
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