In order to build a champion, a team needs to develop talent from within. Over the past few years, many have lamented the Mets farm system, and there has been a noticeable lack of talent coming through the system as of late. However, the farm system has improved and there are talented players working their way to Flushing. In this ongoing series, Fresh Apples will look at some of the Mets minor league talent. This particular Fresh Apples will look at outfielder, Travis Taijeron.
It’s nice to see a player, fresh out of college, get off to a fast start on his first minor league assignment. It’s even nicer to see him continue that fast start into his second minor league assignment. For Mets outfield prospect Travis Taijeron, his professional career has been just that.
Selected in the 18th round last year out of Cal Poly Pomona, where he his .392/.534/.744 with 16 long balls. After signing with the Mets, Taijeron played in 56 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones, hitting .299/.387/.577 with nine home runs. This year, playing for low-A Savannah, Taijeron has continued to hit, batting .350/.469/.625 with three home runs through his first eleven games. In a word: ridiculous. Defensively, he played 35 games in center field last season while spending the rest of his time in left. This season, he’s played seven games in center, one in left and three as the designated hitter.
Those offensive numbers sound too good to be true, and they are-to a certain extent. Taijeron was aided by a BABIP of .398 last season, a number that will surely decline (although coming into last night’s game, his BABIP was .487 in 2012-that number will go down as well). He’s also a bit strikeout prone, fanning 28.4% of the time in Brooklyn and 26.5% of the time so far in Savannah. However, he’s also shown some patience, walking at a 9.8% clip in 2011 and at a 14.3% rate in 2012. It’s been proven that Major Leaguers can survive high strikeout totals if they hit for power and walk a lot. For example, Adam Dunn has a career strikeout rate of 27.7%, but also owns a career walk rate of 16.2% to go along with 366 career home runs.
Both MetsMinorLeagueBlog and Amazin Avenue have Taijeron on their top prospects list (at 40/41 and 47/50, respectively) based on his ability to hit for power, but are also wary of his high strikeout total and skeptical of his ability as a center fielder (both believe he will move to a corner at some point). At the age of 23, he’s a little old for the SAL, but should move up to St. Lucie sooner rather than later if he keeps hitting at this rate. He’s still at least a couple of years away from the Majors, but it’s nice to see such dominance and power, even at a low-level.