It took 14 years, but Jesus Feliciano is finally going to the big leagues. The now former Bisons outfielder had his contract selected by the New York Mets tonight and will join the club as a 30-year-old rookie.
"All the hard work that I have put in the past years has finally paid off and I am really excited," said Feliciano with a huge grin on his face.
Feliciano was originally selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 36th round of the 1997 First Year Player Draft. In his first year of professional action, he hit .305 with the Single-A Yakima Bears. From that year on, he has not skipped a beat.
The Mets inked Feliciano to a minor league deal prior to the 2007 season and he has been with the organization's Triple-A affiliate ever since. He has hit at an unbelievable pace, with his average over .300 in all three years with the club coming into 2010 with the Bisons.
However, this year he was having by far his best season in baseball. Coming into Sunday, Feliciano was hitting an International League best .385, which was 57 points higher than any other batter in the league. He was also tops in the IL with 72 hits.
This came following a 2009 campaign that saw him win the Sterling Award for Buffalo after hitting .311, appearing in 130 games, and leading the IL with 154 hits. He was also the Bisons team MVP, but Feliciano knows his work is not quite finished now that he is in 'the show.'
"Now it is almost like I am starting a new career," said the native of Puerto Rico. "This is just the beginning; I cannot stop working now because I got there. Now I have to work even harder, because I would like to stay there for the rest of my career."
Feliciano grew up in a baseball family. His father, also Jesus, is a baseball legend in his homeland of Puerto Rico. He played for the Puerto Rican National Team for 16 years, including representing the country in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. He even was the Puerto Rican flag bearer for the 1988 Opening Ceremonies in Seoul, Korea.
While the younger Jesus is quite enthused to go on to play Major League Baseball, he knows he will miss his teammates in Buffalo.
"I am a little bit sad I am leaving, because I had fun with the guys here, but it is part of the business," stated Feliciano.
Not yet sure what role he will play for the Mets, Feliciano is prepared for whatever responsibilities New York manager Jerry Manuel has to throw at him.
"I'll be ready if they need me to play every day, if they need me off the bench, I'll be ready to go off the bench, so I'll be ready for whatever Jerry needs me to do," gladly said the newest member of the New York Mets.
Either way, Feliciano has finally reached the pinnacle of baseball, and there may be no player in the sport more deserving of the call than him.
"It is a dream come true!" exclaimed Feliciano.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.