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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week One

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What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, April 4th to April 13th?

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
Travis Taijeron
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Hitter of the Week

Travis Taijeron

2019 Season: 9 G, 29 AB, .276/.417/.690, 8 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 13 K, 0/0 SB

Week: 9 G, 29 AB, .276/.417/.690, 8 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 13 K, 0/0 SB

Travis Taijeron (4/13/19, MiLBTV)
MiLBTV

Travis Taijeron was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Cal Poly Pomona, which is not Cal State Poly. He was a senior signing, but he had one hell of a senior year there, hitting .392/.534/.744 with 16 home runs. His junior year there wasn’t half bad either, and he hit .345/.441/.670 with 16 home runs. He hit the ground running when he made his professional debut with the Cyclones in 2011, hitting .299/.387/.557, but after that there was always a pretty big learning period every time he was promoted. He eventually mastered low-A and high-A but by the time he got to Binghamton it looked like our draft expert Alex Nelson’s predictions that superior pitching would eat him alive was right. He struggled to hit for average with the Binghamton Mets and even though the average went up when he got to the PCL, if you account PCL inflating to his batting average, it was again a sub-par average and OBP.

He got some MLB playing time in 2017, when he got into 26 games with the Mets, and while he did hit .173/.271/.269, he also slugged a major league home run, so he always has that, and he hit a walk off single that gave the Mets a win over the Braves.

Taijeron’s power has always real, thanks to a big, sweepy swing. It gets a lot of swings and misses, but when he connects solidly, the ball travels a long way. If Taijeron were able get the strikeouts under control, there would be more wiggle room, but because his swing is very exploitable and his power depends on those big hacks, it is hard to envision a stable future for him at the major league level. The team transitioned him to first base, which in theory should make him slightly more versatile, but the Mets have no shortage of first baseman, making Taijeron’s already difficult path to the major leagues even more difficult.

Pitcher of the Week

Chris Flexen

2019 Season: 2 G (2 GS), 12.0 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER (5.25 ERA), 3 BB, 18 K

Week: 2 G (2 GS), 12.0 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER (5.25 ERA), 3 BB, 18 K

Chris Flexen (4/13/19, MiLBTV)
MiLBTV

Flexen, who is 24 now and will be turning 25 later this year in July, was drafted by the Mets in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. The early returns were good, but he struggled in his first go-around in full-season ball in 2014 with the Savannah Sand Gnats and eventually had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He returned about a year later and looked good, enough that we ranked him the Mets’ tenth top prospect for the 2016 season. He wasn’t as impressive in 2016, but his peripherals trended in the wrong directions, and other players started developing, so he fell to 21 on our ranking for mets prospects for the 2017 season. He started the season on the DL but when he finally got back on the field, he was extremely dominant. He posted a 1.76 ERA in 61.1 innings in the Florida State League and Eastern League with St. Lucie and Binghamton. He got called up to the Mets in late July cause of injuries and everything at the major league level and just as good as he was in the minors, he was bad in the majors. He posted a 7.88 ERA in 48 innings, and despite all of that, he retained his prospect eligibility and was ranked the Mets fourth top prospect for 2018.

He began the 2018 season with the Las Vegas 51s and spent the majority of his season there outside of four appearances at the major league level. There were a bunch of factors, but his numbers took a step back and in 92.0 innings, he posted a 4.40 ERA, allowing 109 hits, walking 31, and striking out 78. So far, this year, he’s looked good.

Flexen has a pretty large pitching repertoire, and it feels like having access to so many pitches has hurt him in the past. When he came to the majors, he was throwing a four-seam and two-seam fastball, both averaging about 93 MPH, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. The season is pretty young, but he’s said that he’s scrapped the two-seam fastball and is concentrating on just the four-seam fastball, throwing it up in the zone. He also said he’s using his curveball less as a strikeout weapon and is using his slider more.

In addition, he lost a lot of weight and is literally in the best shape of his life. He lost about 30 pounds over the winter working out and changing his diet habits to just eating eggs, chicken, broccoli and cauliflower. He’s had a problem of getting tired and losing velocity on his pitches basically his entire career, and shedding that weight should help with his stamina.