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Travis, five other prospects to play in AFL

Travis, five other prospects to play in AFL

Travis, five other prospects to play in AFL

DETROIT -- While Tigers fans are looking for postseason baseball in October, there will be more fall work for some of Detroit's prospects. The Arizona Fall League released its rosters on Tuesday, and they include breakout Tigers prospect and Class A Lakeland second baseman Devon Travis, who will get his shot against some of the better pitching prospects in the game.

Travis will be one of a half-dozen Tigers prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox, whose coaching staff will include former Tigers hurler and Lakeland pitching coach Mike Maroth. Also going to Arizona is Class A West Michigan closer Corey Knebel, Double-A Erie outfielder Tyler Collins, SeaWolves reliever Will Clinard and Triple-A Toledo lefty Kyle Lobstein. Detroit will name one more player to the roster before the season opens Oct. 8.

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Travis' season began with a Spring Training impression as an extra player in Detroit's Grapefruit League games. The former Florida State second baseman took that momentum to West Michigan and hit up a storm in the Midwest League, batting .352 with 17 doubles, six homers, 42 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 77 games.

He earned a midseason promotion to the Florida State League and hasn't let up, hitting .330 with eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs in 47 games. He has gone 6-for-7 stealing bases. A matchup in the Fall League was the next logical step.

"I think it's going to be a very natural step for him," Tigers player development director Dave Owen said Tuesday. "What a great year he's put together."

Knebel will become the second Tiger in five years to go to the AFL the same year he's drafted. Andy Oliver did it in 2009. Knebel, however, is in a different situation. He came into the Tigers' system as a reliever, despite initial indications the Tigers would stretch him into a starter, and he'll continue work out of the bullpen in Mesa.

The formula has worked well so far. The former University of Texas closer entered Tuesday having allowed just two earned runs on 12 hits over 28 innings, striking out 38 batters and recording 13 saves.

"He came on after the Draft and has done everything he's supposed to do," Owen said. "He's shown he's ready for a challenge."

Collins will get a chance to work on some of the hitting adjustments instructor Bruce Fields and Erie hitting coach Gerald Perry made with him this summer with his swing and his plate discipline. The Spring Training standout has struggled to a .240 average with the SeaWolves, but his 18 home runs and 74 RBIs easily top his previous bests as a pro.

Lobstein spent most of the spring in camp with the Tigers as a Rule 5 pick, then went to Erie when the Tigers worked out a trade with the Rays to acquire his full rights. He's 12-7 with a 3.40 ERA between Erie and Toledo, including two complete games.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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