Rivera Holding His Own

ST. LUCIE, FL - St. Lucie shortstop T.J. Rivera doesn't have any particular skill that will take your breath away. However, he makes plays and does the little things that managers and coaches certainly appreciate. He is fundamentally sound, and noticeably works hard every day. That work ethic has gotten him to where he is today.

T.J. Rivera gave insight into his own preparation that has helped him get to this stage of his baseball career.

"I like to think positive with my mental approach," he said. "I just try to have good thoughts before games, thoughts about getting hits, and just not be nervous about the situation.

"Physically, I‘ll work with the hitting coach and keep my body loose. I keep a nice little routine where it's the same every day."

Rivera tries to maintain that consistency and it seems to be working. He appreciates the fundamentals of the game and doing things the correct way.

"I try to make the routine plays and not give those easy plays up because that's when it leads to a big inning and gets frustrating for the pitcher," Rivera explained. "I take pride in making the routine play."

St. Lucie skipper Ryan Ellis and hitting coach Benny Distefano couldn't agree more.

"He has a really strong work ethic," Ellis said. "That's part of why he's here, because he's been able to bring that consistency onto the playing field. He gets those ground balls and gets on base."

"T.J. is a very good young man, very respectful, hardworking, and very focused," Distefano concurred. "He knows where he wants to go one day and that's what you look for in a young player."

Rivera hit .333 through 261 at-bats with Savannah this year before being called up to St. Lucie after the all-star break. He is playing every day with St. Lucie, making plays defensively and currently hitting .285 at the dish. Rivera is persevering both offensively and defensively.

"It was a small adjustment period, you never know how long that's going to last for but he's holding his own," Ellis said. "Defensively he makes the routine play which is what you want from the middle guys.

"He's adapted much better to being more aggressive on defense instead of laying back. I like that aggressiveness now that it's being instilled in him."

Rivera was brought up as a second baseman through college at Troy University. He played second base last year between Kingsport and Brooklyn as well, but he's becoming better adapted to the aggressiveness of playing shortstop here in St. Lucie.

"I'm working on my backhand, and that's something I like to work on before the game," Rivera said. "It's real important to get around the ball at shortstop because it's a longer throw.

"At second you can lay back but not at shortstop. I've been working a lot on coming to the ball. You have to have that one step and throw."

Rivera is also trying to continue his sweet short swing that gave him so much success at Savannah.

"I'm just trying to hit the fastball in my zone and not hit the pitcher's pitch," Rivera expressed. "When I got here I struggled a little bit, you know? I was trying to change my approach and doing a little too much, but it's coming back to me now."

Distefano explained what kind of adjustments Rivera has made offensively with the move from low-A Savannah to high-A St. Lucie.

"There's a big difference between the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League," explained the hitting coach. "He came up here and went through the learning curve a little bit, but he's settling down and doing a good job for a first full year player.

"He's making great strides. He's learning to make the adjustments. With him the main thing is getting his front foot down and getting in good direction to the pitcher and letting him trust his hands. He's working on getting his hands in a good hitting position consistently."

Ellis also weighed in on Rivera's plate approach.

"Offensively he's starting to hone in on the fastball and put the ball in play a lot harder," Ellis said. "I think he needs to narrow down what fastball he's looking for, but I like the fact that he's able to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and at times pitch to pitch."

"I like to see fastball," Rivera confirmed. "I look in the zone where I can control the bat the best and look for that fastball there. I try to find a zone where I can do some damage in and put a good swing on it.

"I'm not a power guy so I just try to get on base any way I can. With two strikes I like to fight and just try to make things happen. I'm working on staying consistent and on staying short through the zone. That's where the hits come in."

Rivera has come through in certain situations with some timely hits. With runners on base he is batting .317.

Although he won't ‘wow' you, Rivera's entire body of work reveals a versatile player that has done a pretty good job at bringing consistency both at the plate and in the field. His work ethic and determination is what stands out the most.

Hitting coach Distefano summed it up best.

"He's a good all-around baseball player. He does everything good. He has a good mind. He has a good feel for what he wants to do.

"He won't wow you, but if you put all the tangibles together then you have a good ballplayer that has the aptitude and instincts to make adjustments.

"He handles the bat well and can go to right field and move a runner. He has good gap to gap pop, and he's a good handsy player. He's just an all-around solid player."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nT.J. Rivera gave insight into his own preparation that has helped him get to this stage of his baseball career.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like to think positive with my mental approach,\" he said. \"I just try to have good thoughts before games, thoughts about getting hits, and just not be nervous about the situation.
\r\n
\r\n\"Physically, I‘ll work with the hitting coach and keep my body loose. I keep a nice little routine where it's the same every day.\"
\r\n
\r\nRivera tries to maintain that consistency and it seems to be working. He appreciates the fundamentals of the game and doing things the correct way.
\r\n
\r\n\"I try to make the routine plays and not give those easy plays up because that's when it leads to a big inning and gets frustrating for the pitcher,\" Rivera explained. \"I take pride in making the routine play.\"
\r\n
\r\nSt. Lucie skipper Ryan Ellis and hitting coach Benny Distefano couldn't agree more.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has a really strong work ethic,\" Ellis said. \"That's part of why he's here, because he's been able to bring that consistency onto the playing field. He gets those ground balls and gets on base.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"T.J. is a very good young man, very respectful, hardworking, and very focused,\" Distefano concurred. \"He knows where he wants to go one day and that's what you look for in a young player.\"
\r\n
\r\nRivera hit .333 through 261 at-bats with Savannah this year before being called up to St. Lucie after the all-star break. He is playing every day with St. Lucie, making plays defensively and currently hitting .285 at the dish. Rivera is persevering both offensively and defensively.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was a small adjustment period, you never know how long that's going to last for but he's holding his own,\" Ellis said. \"Defensively he makes the routine play which is what you want from the middle guys.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's adapted much better to being more aggressive on defense instead of laying back. I like that aggressiveness now that it's being instilled in him.\"
\r\n
\r\nRivera was brought up as a second baseman through college at Troy University. He played second base last year between Kingsport and Brooklyn as well, but he's becoming better adapted to the aggressiveness of playing shortstop here in St. Lucie.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm working on my backhand, and that's something I like to work on before the game,\" Rivera said. \"It's real important to get around the ball at shortstop because it's a longer throw.
\r\n
\r\n\"At second you can lay back but not at shortstop. I've been working a lot on coming to the ball. You have to have that one step and throw.\"
\r\n
\r\nRivera is also trying to continue his sweet short swing that gave him so much success at Savannah.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just trying to hit the fastball in my zone and not hit the pitcher's pitch,\" Rivera expressed. \"When I got here I struggled a little bit, you know? I was trying to change my approach and doing a little too much, but it's coming back to me now.\"
\r\n
\r\nDistefano explained what kind of adjustments Rivera has made offensively with the move from low-A Savannah to high-A St. Lucie.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a big difference between the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League,\" explained the hitting coach. \"He came up here and went through the learning curve a little bit, but he's settling down and doing a good job for a first full year player.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's making great strides. He's learning to make the adjustments. With him the main thing is getting his front foot down and getting in good direction to the pitcher and letting him trust his hands. He's working on getting his hands in a good hitting position consistently.\"
\r\n
\r\nEllis also weighed in on Rivera's plate approach.
\r\n
\r\n\"Offensively he's starting to hone in on the fastball and put the ball in play a lot harder,\" Ellis said. \"I think he needs to narrow down what fastball he's looking for, but I like the fact that he's able to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and at times pitch to pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I like to see fastball,\" Rivera confirmed. \"I look in the zone where I can control the bat the best and look for that fastball there. I try to find a zone where I can do some damage in and put a good swing on it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not a power guy so I just try to get on base any way I can. With two strikes I like to fight and just try to make things happen. I'm working on staying consistent and on staying short through the zone. That's where the hits come in.\"
\r\n
\r\nRivera has come through in certain situations with some timely hits. With runners on base he is batting .317.
\r\n
\r\nAlthough he won't ‘wow' you, Rivera's entire body of work reveals a versatile player that has done a pretty good job at bringing consistency both at the plate and in the field. His work ethic and determination is what stands out the most.
\r\n
\r\nHitting coach Distefano summed it up best.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a good all-around baseball player. He does everything good. He has a good mind. He has a good feel for what he wants to do.
\r\n
\r\n\"He won't wow you, but if you put all the tangibles together then you have a good ballplayer that has the aptitude and instincts to make adjustments.
\r\n
\r\n\"He handles the bat well and can go to right field and move a runner. He has good gap to gap pop, and he's a good handsy player. He's just an all-around solid player.\"
\r\n
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