The reigning National League-champion Mets are headed to the postseason for the second consecutive year after winning the first NL Wild Card. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here’s our attempt to learn the origins of rookie T.J. Rivera.
T.J. Rivera, 2B
Born: Bronx, N.Y.
HS: Lehman (N.Y.) High School
College: Troy University
Minors: Kingsport (R), Brooklyn (A-), Savannah (A), St. Lucie (A+), Binghamton (AA), Las Vegas (AAA)
Path to New York: Rivera signed with the Mets in 2011 after he went undrafted out of college.
Before they were postseason-bound
Trophy case: 2016 Pacific Coast League batting title.
Famous feat(s): Rivera hasn’t hit under .300 at any level, including the big leagues, since batting .289 for Class A Advanced Port St. Lucie in 2013.
You might not know: Rivera grew up off Westchester Avenue in the Bronx, about a 15-minute drive from Citi Field (without traffic).
Six degrees of Willie Aikens: Rivera played for former Mets catcher Mackey Sasser at Troy University. Sasser appeared in 420 games for New York from 1988-92, batting .282 with 15 home runs. He played a role in getting Rivera to the Mets, putting him on the radar of Mets scout Tommy Jackson.
“I told Tommy, ‘I can’t believe nobody drafted T.J. You can’t go wrong with him,” Sasser told the New Daily News earlier this year. “He’s going to make someone a good player.”
Prep prowess: Rivera was named MVP as a sophomore, junior and senior at Lehamn High School in the Bronx. He hit .618 as a junior and .609 as a senior.
Batting title: Rivera entered Triple-A Las Vegas’ season finale earlier this month hitting .350, down four points from teammate Brandon Nimmo for the Pacific Coast League batting title. He went 3-for-5 in that game, vaulting past Nimmo and securing the PCL batting crown.
“[Just before my last at-bat], that’s when I started to really hear guys talking more about who was winning and who was in the lead,” Rivera told MiLB.com. “Honestly, I was just trying to have a good at-bat. It [stinks] that it had to be a teammate that I had to face for the title, but he’s had a great season and you can’t take anything away from him.”
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Before he was postseason-bound: T.J. Rivera