Travis Taijeron is in one of those career stalemates. Now 27 years old and coming off his sixth minor league season, he is no longer one of the Mets top prospects, yet there seemingly is no room in Queens for Taijeron to make his big league debut.
So what’s next?
There is plenty to like about the big right-handed-hitting outfielder. Taijeron was drafted in the 18th round out of Cal Poly Pomona, where he became one of the most feared power hitters in Division II. His senior campaign, he not only matched his single-season record of 16 home runs for the Broncos, but saw pitchers stop pitching to him as he was walked 24 times in the last month of his collegiate career. He was the unanimous West Region Player of the Year, and the Mets swooped in and grabbed him 552nd overall.
Taijeron quickly turned heads in his 2011 half-season debut. He raked nine home runs in his first 194 at bats for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League, while adding 13 doubles and five triples. Early on in his career, you could see the one glaring problem that would haunt him, and that is his strikeout rate. He struck out 28.4 percent of the time in his first season, but due to his immense power, he was able to offset it, walking ten percent of the time.
Taijeron climbed the minor league ladder, consistently showing that he can be a professional hitter. The only question that remained was at what level would he peak. He continued to pile up home runs at every level, big ones at that, while the strikeouts continued to amass as well. Despite striking out well over 100 times in each full season he has played — finishing second in the PCL the past two seasons with a combined 313 strikeouts over 1,019 plate appearances, a staggering 31 percent of the time — he also piles up the walks and has no problem getting on base, as evidenced by his .370 career on-base percentage.
“He got us off to a great start, that’s for sure,” then-Las Vegas skipper Wally Backman said after the Triple-A All Star Game. “It was a big two-run home run that he hit early.”
It was majestic. One of the things the people on hand in Charlotte for the Triple-A All Star Game wanted to see was a patented Taijeron blast. We got it when he went to centerfield with a two-run bomb in the second inning. Seeing a Taijeron home run in person is a pretty sight, especially in the home of the Charlotte Knights, an International League team and not one of the PCL team’s stadiums that are widely known as a launching pads for home runs. He has true power that translates anywhere he goes; he is not simply a product of his environment.
“Travis is motivated,” Backman said after the All-Star Game. “I know that everybody is going to see all the strikeouts, but they say today strikeouts don’t matter. We’re looking at the run production, and if you look at that run production that he’s produced this year, it’s going to surpass everything he did last year.”
For more on Taijeron and what his future holds, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full feature by clicking on the link below:
Mets’ minor leaguer Travis Taijeron caught in limbo