Atlanta Braves Minor League Spotlight: Travis Demeritte shows growth with Stripers
There’s no shortage of sluggers in the Atlanta Braves Triple-A lineup. Travis Demeritte has been one of the best in 2019.
The Atlanta Braves Triple-A Gwinnett team has produced quite an impressive offense this season, achieving historic heights in terms of runs scored and home runs.
One of the key contributors in this elite Stripers lineup has been 24-year-old outfielder Travis Demeritte.
Back in February of 2017, former T.T. minor league expert Benjamin Chase wrote up an excellent scouting report on Demeritte, noting the Georgia native’s average hit tool, rating him at 45 — on a scale with 80 as the highest.
Benjamin mentioned Demeritte’s “long” swing as the culprit for his low rating, but he also went on to say that the outfielder had “exceptional bat speed with tremendously fast hands.”
With Benjamin’s experience scouting Atlanta Braves’ prospects, he predicted a rather accurate future for Demeritte:
"I would even go as far as to say that his batting average, strikeout rate, and contact grade would all improve dramatically with the bat having even half the amount of pre-zone movement as he currently experiences."
It appears that Benjamin’s diagnosis proved to be accurate, as Demeritte has gotten better basically in every season of his pro career.
Drafted in the 1st round (30th pick) by the Texas Rangers in 2013, Demeritte started off predominantly as an infielder in the Rangers organization. He played a lot of third base and second, even playing some shortstop early on in his career.
Right before the 2016 trade deadline, the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers hooked up with a trade, resulting in a 2-for-1 deal that sent Demeritte to the Braves.
The Atlanta Braves thought highly of Demeritte, sending him to the Arizona Fall League with several of their top prospects, after the conclusion of the ’16 season.
Ever since his inaugural season in the Atlanta Braves organization, Demeritte has been quite a sneaky-productive player, especially with the bat.
Looking at the 2016-2018 seasons, Demeritte’s 3-year average stats resemble that of an elite player in the minor leagues:
.238 batting average
20 home runs
The batting average hasn’t been ideal, but Demeritte has drastically improved on that mark in the 2019 season. Speaking of the 2019 campaign, through 80 games this season, the former 1st round pick has been exceptional:
18 home runs
On Sunday, Demeritte belted 2 homers in Gwinnett’s 7-0 shutout win over Durham, providing two of the 5 hits by the Stripers:
Demeritte wields above-average power, shown by his homer total this year, but his ability to split the outfield gaps has been the real cause for his elite 2019 season.
With his home run surge this season, Demeritte was selected to participate in the Triple-A Home Run Derby, on Monday. He showed out, advancing to the 2nd round with 37 total homers.
Another aspect of Demeritte’s game that has improved this year is his plate discipline.
For his career, Demeritte has had BB/K rates of 8.7%/29.1 K%. One of the key factors in his advancement this season has been from an almost doubling of his walk-rate, as it stands at 13.3% currently, propping up his .403 OBP.
As it usually goes, his improvements regarding his BB-rate has also resulted in an improved K-rate, with him striking out at a 25.4 percent clip — a decrease of roughly 4 percent compared to his career mark.
Illustrated by his 26 doubles this season, Demeritte has also increased his line drive rate, boosting his 2018 rate by almost 5 percent (19.9%-24.6%).
An increase in line drives almost always equals better results on the field, and that rings true for Demeritte as he’s currently playing the best baseball of his career.
With the question marks regarding center fielder Ender Inciarte (he went 1-for-13 this past week during his rehab assignment in Florida), the solid play from Demeritte provides an outstanding option in the outfield in the event one of the Atlanta Braves starters were to go down with an injury.
Demeritte has his work cut out, competing with the likes of top-prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters in Mississippi, but one thing going for him is that he seems to have already matured in terms of plate-discipline, while Pache and Waters still has a ways to go in that regard.
Either way, keep up with Demeritte, as we should see him next Spring in Florida. He has most likely played his way into potentially becoming a fourth or fifth outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. If his excellent play continues, he may be in an even better position by 2020.