Tuesday night, the Hudson Valley Renegades will host the New York-Penn League All-Star game. Naturally, one of the club's four pitchers named to the game -- Travis Ott -- will start the game for the North .
The Rays acquired the 21-year-old lefty from Washington in the 11-player Dec. 2014 trade that sent Wil Myers to San Diego. Ott didn't arrive with the major league time of Rene Rivera, Burch Smith or Steven Souza or with the fanfare of fellow prospect Jake Bauers, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore his performance.
Washington drafted Ott from a suburban Pennsylvania high school with its 25th-round pick in the 2013 draft. He didn't garner much, if any, attention at the time. He was not part of Baseball America's draft preview, and it only took $10,000 to sign him. He doesn't appear to have a profile on Perfect Game, and nearly everyone who has ever been in the same room as a baseball bat has a profile on there.
Around the time of the draft, Penn Live noted he worked out for the Nationals before the draft and quoted his coach saying "(h)e was never a kid that wanted to go to college, so this was really the route that needed to happen for him. I'm happy that he's going to get that chance."
Ott pitched okay in his Gulf Coast League pro debut. In 29 innings, he struck out 25.6 percent of batters for a GCLteam with an absurd .845 winning percentage.
His 2014 season started in the New York-Penn League. Ott's strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction, but Washington still had him finish the season with Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League. His three starts with the Suns were not good, but the Rays still saw enough to ask for him in that big Myers trade.
Because of his largely unknown amateur career and lack of a professional track record, there is not much scouting information available on Ott. In fact, I can only find anything on him from the time of the trade. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus ($) and FanGraphs all mentioned him in trade recaps. They all seemed to agree his fastball generally sat in the high-80s with some projection and potential for an average curveball and changeup. BA seemed most bullish on him, saying he reminds some of Josh Hader, now with Milwaukee.
The Rays returned Ott to the NYPL for 2015. Although his ERA and WHIP were both up significantly up compared to 2014, his strikeout and walk rates at least showed improvement, and his BABIP was much higher.
Now with over 100 NYPL innings under his belt, I expected Ott would be assigned to Bowling Green to start 2016. However, he was not. He went back to the Renegades and even started the season coming out of the bullpen. He returned to the rotation after three appearances, and he completely dominated. So far in 43 2/3 innings, he has only allowed two earned runs. His 27.3 percent strikeout rate is a career high, and his 7.3 percent walk rate is a career low.
He has certainly earned the starting nod in the All-Star Game, and I think it's fair to say he's earned another shot at full-season ball and a chance to move his career forward.