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All American Game  | Story  | 8/2/2022

Classic is Mission Accomplished for Sykora

Blake Dowson     
Photo: Travis Sykora (Perfect Game)
Travis Sykora really wanted to make the Perfect Game Select Festival when he was 14 years old. He made a huge jump that year, from being ranked outside the top-500 in the 2023 rankings in June, all the way up to No. 72 overall that same September.

It wasn’t quite enough to get him there, though. So he set a new goal – the Perfect Game All-American Classic, three years down the road. Time to get to work.

“My sophomore season in high school I went from 94 to 97 [mph],” Sykora said. “Throughout the course of that season, that was when I started working out and lifting weights for the first time. So that helped a lot.”

Sykora, a right-handed pitcher from Round Rock, Texas, works from a 6-foot-6 frame. It can be hard to get those long limbs all working in unison time after time. Repeating his mechanics and staying loose is another thing he has to work hard at.

Keeping his body in the right shape has been a focus of Sykora’s since he really dedicated himself to lifting weights. He wants to find the right balance between getting stronger and adding mass while also staying flexible in his hips.

It’s in that happy medium that Sykora finds his success.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” he said. “The mobility part, trying to keep my hips loose, keeping my body healthy. That’s the biggest part about throwing hard. You got to stay safe. So I’m pushing myself to move with quick twitch, but also putting on the extra mass to stay healthy at the same time.”

Of course, there are advantages to being 6-foot-6 as a pitcher. Sykora enjoys them. The leverage he creates out of his tall frame gives hitters fits. His windup is a dance; starting square on the mound, bringing his left foot way out toward the first base line, giving one rocker motion from that position, into a big leg kick that sends his knee almost all the way up to his chin, and release from a three-quarter delivery.

At the Perfect Game National Showcase in July, it seemed like he was almost handing the ball to the catcher at times, with his long arms hurling 98 mph fastballs toward the plate.

He uncorked the whole arsenal at PG National, working 94-98 with the fastball, a wipeout slider up to 87, and a changeup that sat 86 he was able to effectively kill spin with.

It was more than enough to make Sykora, now the No. 8 overall prospect in the 2023 class and No. 2 right-handed pitcher, an easy selection for the 2022 Perfect Game All-American Classic.

Mission accomplished.

“It feels great,” Sykora said. “As a kid growing up, I always watched the PG All-American game on MLB Network. And I was always like, ‘I want to be in that game.’ To get the call the other day, it was pretty cool. It made it official. Really cool.”

It will be a bit surreal when he’s out there, he said. For three years he’s been working toward this moment, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s on his doorstep now.

Sykora has gotten to know many of the guys on the travel ball circuit who will also be making the trip to Phoenix with him. That’s what he’s most excited about, getting another chance to hang with those guys one more time and take it all in at Chase Field, in front of a national audience.

That’s tough to beat.

“The most exciting part about it is being around the top-60 guys in the nation,” Sykora said. “To end the summer with all of them will be cool. Playing on TV and just the whole weekend experience will be awesome. I’m extremely excited.”