I have had the privilege of connecting with some of the players that helped the Binghamton Mets make history in 2013. Right off the bat, you can tell why the team was very successful. One reasons is because they have a great group of young men with a passion to succeed. You can see they take their jobs serious enough to show how much they care. It’s what every fan wants to see; a bunch of players caring enough about the game that it shows through in their performance. They may not win every game but at the end of the day the real fans can tell who are the players that truly love the game they are talented enough to play.
One of these talented young players is left fielder Travis Taijeron. He started his pro baseball career after being selected by the Mets in the 2011 Amateur Draft out of Cal Poly University in Pomona, California. Travis reported to Brooklyn that same season. In 56 games, he batted .299 with 5 triples, 9 home runs, 44 runs batted in and a .557 slugging percentage. In 2012, Travis was promoted to Savannah and then to St. Lucie, playing in 112 games. He batted .255 with 68 runs scored, 23 doubles, 19 home runs and 65 runs batted in. In 2013, he remained with St. Lucie for 55 games and batted .303 with 20 doubles, 9 home runs and 27 runs batted in. For the second half of the season, he was promoted to the B-Mets to help in their post season hunt. In 65 games, he batted .246 with 18 doubles, 14 home runs, 42 runs batted in and a .504 slugging percentage.
Even though Travis and the B-Mets did not fulfill their season with a championship, he still appreciated what the year brought to his journey. “I had a great time this year being a part of this team, making history was just a bonus,” says Travis.
Travis was also a part of the group of players that participated with the D3 Baseball Camp and he also was impacted by the experience with the campers:
It was an inspirational experience working with the kids, I was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the camp, and of course we all had a lot of fun.
I reached out to Travis Taijeron, as he has been preparing for the off-season and asked if I could chat with him a bit about the season and his future. Travis was gracious enough to share with me and the Mets fans part of his story.
David – Is there something that you would like to share with the Mets fans that they do not already know about you? Your interests, hobbies outside of baseball?
Travis - I enjoy spending time golfing on the weekends with my friends and working on my Pre-Runner with my brother during the week at his auto shop.
David – When the off-season arrives, what do you look forward to doing the most? Family time, friends time, or just rest?
Travis - It’s always nice to spend time with my family, but I really look forward to working construction and saving up to finance my next season.
David – Growing up in San Diego, who was your favorite player and did you model your game after him?
Travis - Growing up I looked up to Tommy Hinzo, an infielder for the Indians, I enjoyed watching him hit and play infield.
David – While playing baseball at Cal Poly Pomona University you won many awards, including the 2010-2011 Daktronics West Region Player of the Year honor. What can you attribute to your success? Was there a coach or manager that was a huge influence in your game?
Travis - I can attribute a lot of hard work and dedication to that title, there were multiple people who helped me achieve that honor ranging from my manager to my hitting coach and the team.
David – Who was a most influential person for you in your College career?
Travis - Throughout my college career I had some great teammates that influenced me, but senior year at Cal Poly Pomona my manager Randy Betten really influenced me to be a better player.
David - On the day that you were drafted by the Mets in 2011; where were you when you received the news? Can you describe what was going through your mind and who was the first person you called?
Travis - I was hitting in the cage when my roommate John called me told me the Mets had drafted me. I honestly cant remember what was going through my mind, and before I had the chance to call anyone my phone started getting a bunch of text and calls from all my friends and family who had been watching for my name.
David – Do you feel that playing college baseball helped to prepare you for life in pro baseball?
Travis - Yes, college teaches you responsibility and discipline.
David – In 2011, you played your first pro baseball season with the Brooklyn Cyclones. What was the experience like and how can you compare it to playing in college?
Travis - There was no comparison, Brooklyn was a much more electrifying environment being in a stadium surrounded by fans.
David - In your brief pro baseball career you have played all three outfield positions, which do you prefer the most?
Travis - I have no preference, I want to be the best as I can be at all three positions.
David – As you have progressed through the minors, you have continued to produce. What improvements if any have you implemented to your game?
Travis – My mental approach to the game in both offense and defense.
David – Which part of your game do you think improved the most from 2012? What part do you feel you need to put more work into?
Travis – I want to put more work into my speed and strength.
David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?
Travis -There is more then one person Mets fans should be excited about and the fans should all continue to support our minor league teams.
David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?
Travis - It’s a combination of all the coaches who have influenced me in my career thus far.
David – You have had success in your career in the minors; do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? If so, what are you expecting for 2014?
Travis - My goal was to get drafted, I want to be the best player I can and contribute the most I can to my team and the organization.
David – How will you prepare over the winter; can you describe your workout regimen?
Travis – This off-season I will be working on speed and agility. I will be focusing on lots of leg strength and plyometric workouts.
Thank you to Travis for taking the time from his off-season to chat with me about baseball and his future. I am not sure how interviews were handled prior to social media being invented, but it has allowed writers like myself to truly reach out to the players while they are in their comfort zone without feeling like they are on the spot. After reading Travis’ responses you start to understand that each player is on a unique journey and there is no guarantee that they will make it to the big leagues, but when you get a chance to peek into their world, you know deep down inside you want them to make it. Travis has a great future ahead of him and I wish him well and will continue to root him on all the way up to the show.
(Photo courtesy of the Dave Clark Foundation)