T.J. Rivera was born and raised in the Bronx NY, where he attended Herbert H. Lehman High School. Upon graduation, he didn’t receive any Division I baseball scholarship offers. He ended up attending college for three years at both Troy University and Wallace Community College, before declaring for the draft.
Rivera went undrafted which came as a surprise, as in those three years of college ball, the righty had a combined slash line of .320/.368/.466, with only 51 strikeouts in 631 at-bats.
A couple of weeks after the draft the New York Mets took a flyer on the hometown kid. The club signed the undrafted free agent to a minor league deal.
Rivera carried over his college success, and quickly hit his way through the Mets system.
In one season in Savannah playing Single-A ball, he hit .333 in 64 games. In three seasons in High-A Port St. Lucie, Rivera hit .306. And during a brief stint in AA-Binghamton, Rivera hit to a mark of .349 with 55 RBI’s.
In 2015, Rivera was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas where he hit a respectable .306 in 54 games. Last season, Rivera appeared in 105 games for the 51’s and hit .353 with a minor league career high 31 doubles and 11 home runs.
With a banged up big league ball club, Rivera finally received his shot at the bigs in September of 2016. He played in 33 games for the Mets and showed some very positive signs. Rivera hit .333 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs, and sixteen RBI’s.
Upon receiving the call, Rivera told reporters “I just kept grinding away, trying not to think about the things I can’t control. So I was trying to put good at-bats together consistently, and luckily I was able to finally get the call.”
The Mets liked what they saw from the 27-year old utility man and they have kept him around for the start of the 2017 season. Through 15 games, Rivera has a .300 average with five doubles, a homer, and four RBI’s. Friday night, Rivera came through huge for the Mets as he showed that compact swing, lining a solo homer and a game tying two run double.
Rivera showed some terrific situational hitting in his final at-bat. With the bases loaded and no men out, Rivera took the first good pitch he saw and barreled it up for a two run double.
Rivera doesn’t exactly fit the mold of this current Mets roster, however he is sure making it hard for manager Terry Collins to not make room for him in the lineup right now. His manager described him as “dangerous” after Friday night’s come back win.
“He swing’s the bat, that’s who he is. And he’s dangerous because he has the ability to put the barrel on the ball. Any place he’s ever played, that’s the one thing you hear about him. Look, he just hits the ball on the barrel. And when you do that, you can do damage.”