FORT WAYNE – Travis Jankowski had one baseball scholarship out of high school.
That was to Stony Brook.
Three years later, he was leading the Seawolves to their first appearance in the College World Series.
And he was on his way to being a first-round draft pick.
The Padres selected the outfielder with the No. 44 overall pick in this year’s draft. He’s been inserted as the leadoff hitter for the TinCaps, where he’s making the transition to professional baseball.
It’s been a good experience so far, Jankowski, 21, said. I struggled at the beginning of the season, adjusting to the wood bat and the pitching. At college, pitchers didn’t have as much command as they do here. Pitchers work both sides of the plate very well here. They can locate with two or three different pitches at times.
I’m making minor adjustments with my swing, working with the hitting instructors and coaches here to help me out a lot.
Jankowski has a .218 batting average. He has scored 13 runs and stolen four bases in 21 games. He also has 10 RBI, including a game-winning single July 14 against Wisconsin.
He knows how to make adjustments, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. He’s been in a slump, but not for too long. Every at-bat, he’s getting better and better.
That’s what the left-handed hitting Jankowski did in college.
He hit .262 in 2010. In 2011, that average jumped to .355. Jankowski had a .414 average for Stony Brook in 2012.
He led the nation in hits (110), runs scored (79) and triples (11). He ranked in the top 10 in batting average and stolen bases (36).
He was named an ABCA National Co-Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-American. Stony Brook’s postseason run included beating powerhouse LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional on the way to the College World Series.
That was unforgettable, Jankowski said. We got to Omaha, me and a couple of my teammates were hanging out in our hotel rooms. We looked at one another and we kind of went, How the heck did we get here?’
Our coaches really stressed (to) take it one game at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Two years ago, we were 42-12 and didn’t make it to a regional because we looked too far ahead. We learned from that and our coaches really stressed one game at a time, one inning at a time. That really helped out a lot.
A loss to Florida State on June 17 ended Stony Brook’s season. Jankowski – the first player from Stony Brook to get picked in the first round of the draft – made his debut with the TinCaps on June 29, going 1 for 4 at Great Lakes.
The first couple of days really got to me, Jankowski said. Just the adjustment and traveling all over America. I’ve got myself in a routine, and I’m starting to feel comfortable.