East County Sports

Granite Hills’ Taijeron homers in Triple-A All-Star Game

2016 LOCAL BASEBALL PROS

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

CHARLOTTE – After Granite Hills alum TRAVIS TAIJERON fizzled a bit in the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday night, hitting just five homers and failing to get out of the first round, he bounced back in a big way on a bigger stage Wednesday night.

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Taijeron in front of Charlotte skyline.

Taijeron, 27, hit a two-run homer in the top of the second to give the Pacific Coast League an early lead in the Triple-A All-Star Game at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, N.C., home of the International League’s Knights.

The Mets’ farm hand, representing the Las Vegas 51’s of the Pacific Coast League, hit a pitch that was middle-down and launched it over the right-center field fence, exhibiting the power he has continued to develop in the minors.

“It felt really good,” Taijeron said. “I missed the first couple of pitches I thought were good, but were a little up in the zone, then he threw me a nice little cookie away and tried to put a good swing on it with two strikes.

“It was a good feeling to actually hit one out and have the crowd cheer a little bit.”

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Taijeron receives an award as PCL’s offensive player of the game.

Taijeron played in the game for the second-straight year, but this year was accompanied by two of his teammates and his manager, former Mets second baseman Wally Backman.

“I got my manager here, Wally, (infielder) T.J. (Rivera) and (pitcher Gabriel) Ynoa, so its a lot more fun when you can come to an all-star game with a few more guys, it helps break the ice with the other guys.”

A year ago, Taijeron traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, for the game as the 51s’ lone representative.

“They picked on him the whole time,” Rivera said of Taijeron’s Pacific Coast League teammates last year, laughing. “They threw stuff at him.”

“I made some friends,” Taijeron responded. “I did get picked on a little bit, but you know what? I manned up and I just said, ‘I’ll get you guys back during the season.’ ”

Backman tweeted out the PCL’s lineup on Sunday, but informed the former Eagle of his impending start before breaking the news publicly.

“I found out on (Sunday),” Taijeron said. “Wally came up and told me. Last year was a tough loss (in the triple-A all-star game), we had it going until the eighth, but we ended up losing so it was frustrating.”

Taijeron was caught looking at strike three in two subsequent at-bats in the game Wednesday night, however. He later grounded into a double play in the top of the ninth inning, as the International League won, 4-2.

Taijeron, who has 13 home runs and 69 RBIs this season for Las Vegas, called his All-Star nod “an honor.”

Taijeron hit sixth and was the designated hitter for the Pacific Coast League in a lineup which also featured top Padres farmhands Hunter Renfroe and Carlos Asujae, both of whom played in the Major League Baseball Futures Game at Petco Park on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Taijeron and Rivera participated in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where they were driven for a few laps at speeds near 165 mph.
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Granite Hills’ Travis Taijeron (right) and NASCAR star Kevin Harvick at the Triple-A Home Run Derby Monday night in Charlotte, N.C.

 

“I thought we were going to get thrown into the wall a couple times,” Taijeron said. “I tried running T.J. off the road, but he wouldn’t take it. I was trying to convince my driver.”

In spite of some good career numbers (104 home runs, 382 RBIs), he is still not a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster.

In order of making the jump to the majors, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Taijeron would likely have to reduce his strikeout rate considerably.

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