Mets sign former Stony Brook star Travis Jankowski to minor-league deal
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Calling Long Island his "second home," former Stony Brook star Travis Jankowski arrived at Mets spring training on Thursday, the day his minor-league contract with the team became official and he began his campaign to win a major-league outfield job.
Jankowski had other offers, he said. But he chose Queens.
"I’m getting up there in age when it comes to baseball," said Jankowski, who turns 31 in June. "And I want a ring. This was the best fit as far as go out, make a team, compete in camp, see what happens. The roster speaks for itself."
The starting outfield in particular speaks for itself, with Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte and Mark Canha set to get the everyday playing time. But there is a fourth-outfielder role seemingly up for grabs. Khalil Lee and Nick Plummer also are eligible for that spot.
Jankowski has played parts of seven seasons with the Padres, Reds and Phillies. His career slash line is .239/.322/.318, and his career stolen-base success rate is 75% (69 of 92).
With the Mets, Jankowski will try to recreate some of that Seawolves magic from a decade ago. He was the best player on the best team in program history, the 2012 squad that made it to the College World Series. On his way to winning America East Player of the Year, Jankowski set several single-season school records, including hits (110), average (.414), runs (79) and steals (36).
Then he became a first-round draft pick, taken 44th overall by the Padres. He was the first of seven Seawolves to be selected and signed that year.
"That’s where my career went to the next level," Jankowski said of Stony Brook, where he played because it was the only Division I baseball offer he had. "It’s a memory that me and my teammates will cherish forever. I call them teammates, but they’re really like brothers."
Jacob deGrom began his live batting practice session — his first time facing hitters this year — by striking out Francisco Lindor (three pitches) and Jeff McNeil (four pitches).
After a check-swing foul ball, McNeil exclaimed: "Yes! I touched it!"
Pete Alonso had a line drive up the middle.
"I touched it," he said.
The other highlight from the Mets’ workout was a team defense drill during which manager Buck Showalter arranged to have very loud crowd noise piped in over the Clover Park sound system. He has done that since managing the Yankees 30 years ago.
The grand honor of starting the Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Nationals goes to lefthander Josh Walker, a 27-year-old from Orange County, New York. Then comes David Peterson on Sunday against the Cardinals.
The aces make their exhibition debuts early next week: Max Scherzer on Monday versus the Marlins, deGrom on Tuesday opposite the Astros.
Starling Marte still is limited by his sore left oblique and was a partial participant in outfield drills . . . The Mets’ intrasquad scrimmage Friday, which is open to the public, is scheduled to last five or six innings. The starting pitchers are Jose Rodriguez and Thomas Szapucki. . . The Mets made official their signing of lefthander Chasen Shreve, a member of their 2020 bullpen.