There can be a lot of grasping at straws to impart some meaning to September baseball in a lost season. And while much of that focus is rightly on the progress of prospects that may hopefully make the next September more meaningful, one small joy can be watching some less-heralded players get their moment in the sun on an major league field.
Travis Taijeron has been in the running for King of Spring Training for several years running in Port St. Lucie. In the organization since 2011, he has never put up an ISO under .227 in any minor league season. Of course, you should never scout the stat line, and despite consistent minor league production, Taijeron has never been considered a prospect. Still, it is surprising that some Met confluence of injuries or expanded September rosters never resulted in the outfielder getting called up for even a short period, as he consistently produced a .274/.382/.523 slash line over the last three seasons in Triple-A.
So, as the 2017 season played out to its literal and figurative painful conclusion for the Mets and their fans, it was a pleasant diversion to see Taijeron finally get the call on August 26 after Yoenis Cespedes succumbed to his final leg injury of the season. Over 26 late season games, Taijeron came to the plate 59 times. In that small sample, his .173/.271/.269 and 40.7% K rate will do nothing to make anyone rethink his prospect status. However, after hitting 135 minor league home runs, Taijeron finally touched them all in the majors on September 8 at home against the Reds, and on September 26, he found himself at the center of a pile of happy fellow major leaguers after delivering a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth against the Braves.
At 28 years old—29 before Opening Day 2018—Taijeron is clearly is not in the Mets’ short- or long-term plans, and is a likely candidate to be one of the first players removed from the 40 man roster as the team conducts its offseason makeover. Perhaps another organization will see that minor league ISO and take a flyer on him as a minor league free agent.
If he clears waivers and returns to the organization, it would most likely be to continue to pile up Triple-A numbers and hope for another major league opportunity. Perhaps he is even designated for assignment and released. Whatever happens as he works his offseason construction job, while most Met fans may wish to do all they can to forget the 2017 season, Travis Taijeron will hopefully remember it a bit more fondly.