Who is Travis Taijeron? Many of you might ask that question to yourself recently when reading Mets box scores, or watching Spring Training action so far. Taijeron has done nothing but mash early in Grapefruit League action, to a batting average of .417. Taijeron is a 27-year old outfielder that was drafted by the Mets back in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, out of Cal Poly Pomona. He was a decorated Division II baseball player, receiving an All American selection his final season. In the Minor Leagues, Taijeron has been a New York Penn League All Star with the Brooklyn Cyclones and a South Atlantic League All Star with the Savannah Sand Gnats. He has also been named twice as a MILB.com All Star by Minor League baseball.
Taijeron has been listed at the back end of many Mets prospect lists for several years now, since being drafted by the organization. He has been projected as a very good fourth outfielder, or fringe starter with power. Scouting reports believe Taijeron has the potential to hit 20 home runs a season. Taijeron has the frame at 6’2 and 200lbs to put up great power numbers in the Majors. Last season was Taijeron’s first season at AAA, and he mashed 25 home runs to go along with 71 RBI for Las Vegas. He finished the 2015 campaign with a .274/.393/.536 line. Taijeron had a good .929 OPS last season in AAA as well. It is important to note that I don’t believe Tajieron’s power numbers were as inflated as others, as he has hit double digit home runs every level he has been at. The lone year he did not reach double-digit homers, was his half-season rookie stint with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2011. Taijeron did hit 9 home runs his rookie year in that tough ballpark however. Intresting enough he also had better numbers away from the friendly confines of Las Vegas. Taijeron had a .236 average at home with 14 home runs and 35 RBI, while he hit .314 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI on the road. His on base percentage and slugging percentage were surprisingly also higher on the road than in Las Vegas.
Taijeron has a career Minor League slash of .267/.370/.512. He has 91 career home runs to go along with that slash line. One reason Taijeron has taken so long to come up is that he strikes out too often. If you look at his numbers from the year he entered the Minors in 2011, his strikeout numbers rise significantly every year. Last season in his first year at AAA Taijeron had 147 strikeouts in 478 plate appearances, which means he struck out in 30% of his at-bats. If Taijeron wants to have a spot on the Major League roster, he will have to demonstrate he can cut down on the strikeouts. However on the other side of the spectrum, Taijeron has never posted an on base percentage lower than .356, which can bode well for his future at the next level.
Tajieron is having an eye opening spring so far, and is turning heads with the way he has swung the bat. If Taijeron continues his great play he will definitely be in the running for a spot on the Major League roster, if and when a need arises. He could provide a solid option off the bench as a corner outfielder for Terry Collins, as long as he cuts down on the strikeouts and puts the ball in play. Taijeron is not on the 40-man roster, but if pieces start moving including a move with Alejandro De Aza, Taijeron may be added to the 40-man, and possibly to the active 25-man roster. I hope Taijeron can keep up the great play this spring, as nothing makes me happier than seeing homegrown talent rise to the big leagues. He could provide a solid bat off of the bench for the Mets, and he has proven he can mash left handed pitching with a .304/.418/.637 line last year. Taijeron’s play nonetheless will be an interesting storyline to watch for the rest of the spring, as he will be receiving ample amounts of playing time.