Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Draft Focus: Travis Demeritte

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Every weekday leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Travis Demeritte Perfect Game profile

Position:  3B
Height:  6-1
Weight:  195
Bats/Throws:  R-R
Birthdate:  Sept. 30, 1994
High School:  Winder-Barrow
City, State:  Statham, Ga.
Travel Team:  East Cobb Braves
Commitment: South Carolina
Projected Draft Round:  2-3

The statement below is going to seem a bit ironic in light of some of Travis Demeritte’s history and accomplishments. He was a 2012 Perfect Game All-American and played in the PG All-American Classic last summer. He’s been part of numerous WWBA and BCS national championship teams as part of first the East Cobb Astros and more recently the East Cobb Braves. He’s played in approximately 25 Perfect Game events from Florida to Minnesota to California and Arizona. He’s ranked 36th in the country in the latest PG Class of 2013 rankings and first among all third baseman nationally.

But I personally think he is under recognized and undervalued as a prospect. Breaking it down into different categories, here’s why.

Defense: Demeritte is the best defensive third baseman in the 2013 class by a significant margin. His range, especially to his left, is simply outstanding. He cuts balls off in front of the shortstop with perfect angles with regularity that defies his age. Demeritte’s arm strength is a plus tool and he gets outstanding carry on his throws with accuracy, especially when he has to go to his right. There isn’t a play on the field that can’t make.

The unusual thing is that I’ve never seen Demeritte play any position but third base. He’s a 6.78 runner and has the athleticism and arm strength to play literally anywhere on the field. It’s as if Guerry Baldwin of the East Cobb Astros, with 14 year olds Travis Demeritte and Wesley Jones on his team back in 2009, decided that Demeritte played third and Jones shortstop despite very similar tools and etched it in steel. I’m sure Demeritte would be just as good defensively at shortstop with similar repetitions as Jones or someone like Addison Russell, the 2012 first round pick of the A’s.

One might argue, “Third base isn’t a premium middle of the field position, it doesn’t matter as much how good he is defensively.” For me, it’s the same argument as with Dominic Smith at first base. When you have a prospect who is that superior defensively, it’s a big plus. All we seem to do as scouts is try to rush prospects out of the middle of the field anyway.

Offense: Demeritte will be remembered for his last game at a Perfect Game event, the 2012 WWBA World Championship game last October 28, when his 3-for-3, 4 RBI performance helped lead the East Cobb Braves to a 8-2 win over Chet Lemon’s Juice. He’s been a consistent high level performer in high school and for the East Cobb teams and has plus bat speed with a whippy line drive swing and good barrel skills. He won’t be a big home run numbers hitter at the next level, but should produce an above average number of doubles and triples, along with having the ability to draw walks and steal some bases.

I think it is on offense where Demeritte gets overlooked. He’s a right handed hitter without a true plus projected power or hit tool at the moment. But there is one thing that Demeritte does now as a hitter that could easily be adjusted and could put him into that plus category offensively. The irony is that I have seen him make the adjustment before, just not very often.

The vast majority of the time Demeritte hits from an exaggerated open stance and while he does get some hip rotation and load, he never gets anywhere near closing up to the pitcher. He’s open at contact and looking almost exclusively for something on the inside half to pull. Inside velocity, inside hanging breaking stuff, it doesn’t matter. Put the ball on the outside few inches of the plate and he is very vulnerable. The problem there is that pitchers at the next level can do that and it will expose Demeritte’s approach immediately.

This is not a criticism of the East Cobb program (that would be like taking issue with the San Francisco Giants pitching coach or Joe Maddon’s defensive strategies), but many East Cobb hitters use this hitting approach. It’s no secret in travel ball circles that East Cobb hitters will feast on velocity over the plate, and they are vulnerable to finesse left-handers who can sink/run the ball to the outside corner.

When Demeritte played at last year’s East Coast Professional Showcase, which is obviously not a Perfect Game/East Cobb event, he hit completely straight and directional to the pitcher and it was obvious from his first BP swing. Not a hint of being open. He also hit by far the best I’ve seen him and consistently crushed the ball to the right centerfield gap. It was extremely enlightening on a number of accounts and I think a true indicator of the type of hitter Demeritte could become with that adjustment.

Pitching: It really doesn’t matter that Demeritte is a high level pitching prospect but it certainly is worth noting athletically. If he concentrated on pitching there is no doubt he’d be a top three round type prospect, although not quite at the level of former East Cobb third baseman and right handed pitchers Kaleb Cowart and Ethan Martin. He throws consistently in the 89-91 mph area, topping out at 92, with a hard breaking 76 mph curveball and a pretty good feel for a changeup. As a full-time pitcher you could see him pitching with a fringy plus fastball, a potential plus curveball and an average changeup.

Make Up: Demeritte is an outstanding competitor and teammate who plays the game hard and with enjoyment, along with being a good student off the field with a scholarship to South Carolina. It wasn’t a big surprise when on March 12, when fellow PG All-Americans Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows faced off highly publicized matchup, that Demeritte and Josh Hart made the trip to see their former teammates on the big stage.

Comparison: I think a perfect comp for Demeritte is Astros starting third baseman Matt Dominguez, the first round (12th overall) pick of the Marlins in 2007. I’m not suggesting that Demeritte will or should go 12th in the 2013 draft. But Dominguez was a 6-foot-1, 185-pound defensive wizard at third base out of high school (Mike Moustakas was his teammate and shortstop) who showed scouts enough with the bat that they felt he could develop with additional strength and repetitions, although I don’t think anyone ever thought Dominguez would become an impact, middle of the order hitter. Without putting up any single huge minor league season, Dominguez has gradually improved offensively, and now, six years later at age 23, is now a starting third baseman in the Major Leagues.

Again, it is ironic that a player so exposed might be under appreciated. But if you look closely, all the parts for a more acclaimed prospect are there.

Perfect Game events attended:

    2009 WWBA 2013 Grads or 14u National Championship
    2009 WWBA 2012 Grads or 15u National Championship
    2009 WWBA Underclass World Championship
    2010 16u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational
    2010 15U BCS Finals
    2010 WWBA 2012 Grads or 16u National Championship
    2010 WWBA 2013 Grads or 15u National Championship
    2010 WWBA World Championship
    2011 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational
    2011 WWBA 2011 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2011 WWBA 2012 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2011 17U BCS Finals
    2011 PG National Games - Class of 2013
    2011 Southeast Top Prospect Showcase
    2011 WWBA Underclass World Championship
    2011 WWBA World Championship
    2012 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational
    2012 National Showcase
    2012 WWBA 2012 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2012 WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2012 18U BCS Finals
    2012 17U Perfect Game World Series
    2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic Presented by Rawlings
    2012 WWBA World Championship

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