Travis Mattair came into the 2012 season as a relative unknown prospect who the Reds plucked up in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft from the Phillies the previous offseason. A former 2nd rounder, he took off the 2010 season to play college basketball before returning for the 2011 baseball season.
Things got off to a rocky start in April for Mattair. He played in 18 games for the Bakersfield Blaze and racked up 59 at bats where he struck out 19 times and had 6 walks while hitting .136/.209/.390. He smacked five home runs during the month, meaning that the other 37 times he put the ball in play, he only recorded a hit 3 times. That is a BABIP of .081 for the month. That may be the worst luck I can recall seeing.
Things turned around for the better in May. The third baseman stepped to the plate 116 times for the month. He walked 15 times and struck out 28 times while hitting .277/.371/.455 with 10 doubles, a triple and two home runs. He really caught fire from the 19th through the 26th as he went 15 for 31 with 5 extra-base hits in that week time frame.
June was a strong month from a statistical standpoint. Mattair went out and hit .304/.355/.490 during the month in 110 plate appearances with 7 doubles and 4 home runs. His plate discipline did take a step backward during the month though, drawing just 8 walks while striking out 26 times.
July was a step backwards from a production standpoint, though it was still a solid month. With 122 trips to the plate he hit .255/.328/.455 with 4 doubles and 6 home runs. His plate discipline was a step back in the right direction as he drew 10 walks with 27 strikeouts.
August and the first three days of September were the strongest month of the year for Mattair. He got 135 plate appearances in that time frame and hit .333/.393/.500 with 10 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs while walking 11 times and striking out just 19 times. The Blaze qualified for the playoffs for winning the first half and lost in a 5 game series where Mattair continued his hot hitting. In those 5 games he hit .350/.381/.850 with a double and 3 home runs in the series.
The 2012 season was the first breakout for Travis Mattair, who had put together some iffy seasons prior to the one with the Blaze. After an incredibly unlucky start in April, he hit .296/.363/.492 from May through the playoffs. The former second round pick of the Phillies has some good tools to work with and while he is still a little older than your typical prospect at his level, between the tools and the season he took off to play college basketball, he remains a very intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. If he can build upon 2012, he could really vault up the Reds prospect rankings.
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