Because second baseman Neil Walker was a late scratch to the lineup, rookie infielder T.J Rivera started at third base and provided a major impact during last night’s 7-5 victory over Arizona.
Rivera reached base in all of his plate appearances as he went 4-for-4 with two runs scored. But his night was not flawless since he also made two errors in the field.
“He’s just trying to get his feet on the ground,” Terry Collins said. “I think he’s got a chance to hit. He’s always hit. He’s hit wherever he’s been. He puts good at-bats on. One of the things they’ve told me about this guy, he puts the barrel on the baseball.” (Adam Rubin, ESPN NY)
Collins also added that Rivera’s defense will only get stronger as he gets more adjusted to the speed of the game at the major league level.
“The game’s faster here,” Collins said. “He’s just got to slow it down a little bit and rely on a couple of things. He’ll get it.”
While it’s only a small sample, Rivera is showing signs that he can absolutely hold his own in the majors. After yesterday’s effort, Rivera increased his average to .364 with a .764 OPS through his first seven games.
He is consistently making hard contact, which is a skill that made him such a successful hitter in the minors.
Rivera was hitting .349 with 11 home runs and 80 RBI in 406 plate appearances in Triple-A this season before getting called up by the Mets. And during his six seasons in the minor leagues, the 27 year old infielder owns a career .323/.370/.433 batting line.
Signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Rivera spent six years in the minor league system being overlooked. But now he’s finally getting his long awaited chance, and it appears like he is making the most of it.