PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Rey Rivera is coming off the best week of his professional career at the time he needed it most.
“It felt really good,” Rivera said, smiling. “It feels like I was playing the show on a video game and I was just doing those crazy stats.”
Rivera hit .500, with four home runs in six games during a recent road trip against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, earning High-A Central player of the week honors.
“Everything felt good out of the swing,” Rivera recalled. “Seeing the pitcher, being on time, all those things; those little things were right on the money.”
A bit of a surprising second round pick in 2017, Rivera’s power intrigued the Detroit Tigers enough to look past his defensive limitations.
“When you get drafted, you put this pressure — yourself and the pressure you think other people have,” Rivera said.
He hit just 2-37, with nine home runs, in his rookie season with the Whitecaps in 2017. He hit 2-13 between West Michigan and Lakeland the following year before being suspended for a positive PED test in 2019.
The pandemic shutdown during his third season gave Rivera a chance to adjust.
“I took the time to reinvent myself, as in the swing,” Rivera said. “Kind of like go step by step, the things I was lacking on, the things I was good on, how to improve the bad things, how to keep improving on the good things.”
Manager Brayan Pena says it paying off for Rivera.
“I am huge believer in making adjustments,” Pena said. “This is a game that we have to make adjustments along the way.”
After a slow start to the season, Rivera is suddenly launching the ball again.
“That has been like my whole thing,” Rivera said, “being more aggressive with pitches in the strike zone and trying to hit it hard, not far.”
But as a result, he’s been doing just that.