Former Jayhawk Travis Metcalf Gives Kansas a Good Name

July 19, 2005

The following article is courtesy of the official website of Minor League Baseball. Metcalf gives Kansas good nameRangers pick using Jayhawks lessons to score with Blaze By Kevin T. Czerwinski /
STOCKTON — Don’t ever underestimate a Jayhawk.

That seems to be the message Travis Metcalf is sending this season to California League opponents. The former Kansas University star has been steady, if not spectacular, for Bakersfield, proving that there’s more to Big-12 Conference than just the University of Texas, Baylor University and the other traditional big boys in college baseball.

Metcalf, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound third baseman, who possesses considerable attributes with the glove as well as the bat, is incorporating the lessons he learned at Kansas, folding them into his first full season of pro ball. And the results have been impressive, providing the Rangers with a gem that remained hidden until they plucked him in the 11th round of last season’s draft.

After setting the Kansas single-season home run record (18) his senior year, Metcalf went on to tear up the Northwest League, hitting 15 homers and 62 RBIs, both of which were second in the circuit, in just 72 games for Spokane. Metcalf’s 37 extra-base hits led the league and he’s showed no signs of slowing down this season.

The Blaze dropped a 5-4 decision to Stockton at Banner Island Ballpark on Saturday night as Metcalf went 1-for-4 with an RBI. He’s hitting .288 through 88 games this season with 12 homers and 58 RBIs, proving, at least for now, that last season’s big splash appears to have been a foreshadowing of what to expect.

“I don’t want to say that I was under-respected but it’s tough in the Midwest and Kansas,” said Metcalf, who also holds the Kansas career mark with 29 homers. “We’re underrated compared to Texas, (Texas) A & M and even Nebraska. We lose a little respect. As for me, I always got respect at school from the fans and the coaches. But coming from Kansas, there’s really no respect for Midwestern schools other than Nebraska.

“(Head) coach (Ritchie) Price kind of let me do what I wanted to do. He was like a pro ball coach at the college level. He did a great job of preparing us. He showed what days to work hard and how to do it and I still use that stuff today. A lot of the stuff I learned here is the stuff he was teaching there. It’s good to be able to hear some of those things carry over.”

And the Rangers have clearly benefited. Metcalf was chosen in the 38th round of the 2003 draft by Minnesota, but elected to return to school for his junior season. Now he’s finding his way in pro ball, attacking his first full season aggressively. Metcalf wants to show that playing a full slate of games — he did play more than his share last year between college and rookie ball — is something he’s capable of doing.

“I have to prove myself,” he said. “The number of games I played last year came close to a full season. But the Rangers wanted to test me this season. And I started hitting well close to the All-Star break. I’m figuring things out about this league at this point. I’m learning the pitches that I can handle and hit. There are also certain balls I need to take with the type of hitter I am.

“Other teams don’t know about me either. But I’m learning the game as I move up. And the Rangers are looking to see if I’m learning. My goal is to be in Double-A next year. In my career, I constantly want to be taking steps up. You get in trouble when you stay at the same level too long or drop down. I want to keep making jumps and work my way up. That’s a reasonable goal.”

One the former Jayhawk doesn’t figure to have any problems reaching.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

Click here to follow Travis Metcalf and all of the former Jayhawk baseball players in professional baseball.