Minor Leaguer T.J. Rivera is doing what T.J. Rivera always does – hit the baseball like crazy. Rivera, an unsung infielder in the Met farm system is blistering hot going 14- for-36 in his last ten games hitting .389 with two home runs and 8 RBI. On the season, Rivera is batting .338 with a team high 15 RBI and .538 slugging percentage. He is currently second on the team in hits and doubles and third in runs scored and total bases.
Rivera’s offensive explosion is no surprise to me. Over parts of the last two seasons in Binghamton, he never let B-Met fans down in the batter’s box. A consistent contact hitter, the 27-year old Rivera batted .358 for the B-Mets in 2014 and .341 the following year. The kid has a lifetime .319 minor league batting average covering 2.075 at-bats as a pro. B-Met fans understand you get the same focused, hard nosed, day of work every time T.J. steps on the baseball diamond.
That same hard-nosed consistency makes Rivera a versatile asset on the defensive side of the ball. As injuries and roster demands dictated in Binghamton, he was asked to play third base, shortstop and second base. Rivera lacks range but makes up for that with great hands, acute baseball instincts and steady play wherever he’s asked to handle the glove in the infield.
Undrafted entering professional baseball, Rivera understood climbing the Met minor league ladder would be difficult. But he is determined to prove himself as a worthy piece in a major league dugout someday.
Undeterred, Rivera has earned the respect of his teammates wherever he’s played. Current Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki, spoke to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News last month about his gritty teammate.
“He rakes, it’s as simple as that. He’s hit everywhere he’s gone and it’s kind of made a lot of us scratch our heads as to why it’s taken so long to climb the ladder for him. He never lets that get to him and grinds every day. It’s been fun watching him have success.”
B-Met skipper understands Rivera’s value telling MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that Rivera gave his team a professional at-bat time after time. It appears that’s exactly what Las Vegas skipper Wally Backman is getting from Rivera this spring in the Pacific Coast League. Hopefully, one day soon, T.J. Rivera will get that chance to prove he belongs in the major leagues to fill a key utility role.