Toronto Blue Jays: 10 Reasons Travis Snider Will Have a Huge Breakout Season

Ramy EljawharyContributor IIMarch 12, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays: 10 Reasons Travis Snider Will Have a Huge Breakout Season

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    Entering his fifth spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays, prospect Travis Snider appears ready to fulfill his enormous potential and take his game to the next level. 

    However, he must first defeat his competition this spring, and standing in his way is Eric Thames, who finished last season as the club’s starting left fielder. 

    Here are 10 reasons why Travis Snider is ready to break out.

Maturity

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    At 24, it seems that he has been around much longer than he really has, as he’s been talked about ever since the Blue Jays drafted him with their first pick (14th overall) in the 2006 draft.  His change in attitude has not gone unnoticed as Blue Jays manger John Farrell spoke about him in an interview with Toronto radio host Jeff Blair.

    When asked if Snider is a different guy this spring, Farrell stated:

    “He is in a way.  He knows the situation he’s in.  He doesn’t attach to every comment or word that might be talked about him.  Maybe the last couple of years he was eager to know.   He was always wanting feedback, he always wanted to know where he stood in terms of the lineup, in terms of the team, in terms of the organization.  He’s very clear cut, and I think that’s where some of the struggles in the past have matured him to the point that it might have even hardened him up a little bit.”   

Previous Experience

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    Snider has had a taste of the big leagues in each of the past four seasons.  In 232 games and 799 at-bats, he’s hit .248 with 28 home runs and 104 RBI. 

    Each season and every demotion has provided him with an opportunity for continued growth and further development by working on his shortcomings with the Jays.

Potential

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    The talent is there for him to post big numbers.  In 2008, Snider—at just 20 years of age—showcased his skills by hitting .301 with two homers and 13 RBI in only 24 games.  In 2010, he hit 14 home runs in 298 at-bats. If projected over a full season, that would have put him on pace for roughly 25 home runs. 

    However, finding the same level of consistency that he’s enjoyed in the minors has plagued him thus far.

Minor Leagues

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    Snider has hit at every level he’s played in.  In parts of three seasons at Triple-A, he has boasted excellent numbers.  In 487 at-bats, he has hit for a .333 average to go along with his 20 home runs and 99 RBI.  He also has an on-base percentage of .407 and a very impressive .957 OPS. 

    At this point, there is nothing left for him to prove in the minors.  

Strong Supporting Cast

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    Undoubtedly, this version of the Toronto Blue Jays appears to be the strongest lineup that he will take part in. 

    1. SS Yunel Escobar

    2. 2B Kelly Johnson

    3. RF Jose Bautista

    4. 1B Adam Lind

    5. 3B Brett Lawrie

    6. CF Colby Rasmus

    7. C J.P Arencibia

    8. DH Edwin Encarnacion

    9. LF Travis Snider

    The days of hitting behind or in front of players like Scott Rolen, John McDonald, Greg Zaun, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, Michael Barrett and Raul Chavez are over.

Other Top Prospects

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    Snider is not the only highly regarded prospect that has struggled in the majors.  Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, Gordon Beckham of the Chicago White Sox, Matt LaPorta of the Cleveland Indians and Matt Gamel of the Milwaukee Brewers have all had their share of difficulties against big-league pitching. 

    However, one player that he could be compared to is Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon.  Gordon also endured his share of growing pains during his first four seasons before finally putting it all together in 2011.

Outlook

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    Travis Snider may have faced some struggles in the past few years, but that certainly hasn't deterred him from sporting a positive attitude that will enable the former hot-shot prospect to have a breakout campaign.

    Via The Toronto Sun:

    “Unfortunately things have gone differently from what I would have thought or had planned. But anytime you talk about a life, whether it’s baseball or just personal issues, it’s something you have to take in stride, face your challenges and make whatever adjustments that need to be made. You have to learn to get through your experiences, both the good and the bad, and take from them what will make you better, whether it’s as a player or a person.”

Contract

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    He has one option year remaining on his contract that allows Toronto to send him to the minors without the possibility of exposing him to waivers. 

    This should buy him some extra time as the Jays will give him a long look this season.   

Health

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    He appears healthy this spring.  Tendinitis in his right wrist prematurely ended his 2011 season on August 21.

    When asked about his season-ending injury, Snider was upbeat: “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.  It gave me some extended time to spend with some friends and family and do some good self-reflection and really put things in perspective.”

    He has also made some adjustments with his offseason training and believes his body is now less vulnerable to muscle pulls and strains. 

Strong Start

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    So far this spring, Snider has hammered the opposition.  In six games, he has batted .294 and is currently leading the team with three home runs.  His seven RBI trail current team leader Brett Lawrie by one. 

    Eric Thames has also had a strong start to his spring training.  He has one home run and four RBI, while his average is identical to Snider’s .294.

    Although his numbers are slightly better, it is still too early to speculate on which player Blue Jays manger John Farrell will name as the club’s Opening Day left fielder. 

    One thing that is certain based on Snider's torrid start is that he will make it hard on Farrell to deny him the starting job, as he finally appears to be on the verge of a breakout season.