Another big week at the plate has earned Indians’ top prospect Francisco Mejia the International League’s Player of the Week Award for games played between June 25 and July 1.
The 22-year-old Mejia extended an impressive multi-hit hitting streak during his hitting tear last week, tallying 16 hits in 31 plate appearances to put up a .593/.645/.926 effort, good for a 1.571 OPS in his seven games played. In addition to his impressive hit total, he drew four walks and struck out just twice during the week.
The Clippers kicked off a seven-game homestand against Louisville and Indianapolis and Mejia did some heavy lifting for the offense.
In the series opener with the Bats, Mejia hit second while serving as the team’s designated hitter for the day. He went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of singles and reached base safely a third time via walk. His efforts were to no avail, however, as Louisville beat up on Columbus, 11-2.
Mejia put up two more hits in the middle game of the series on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 on the day with a single and a double while scoring a run. His two-base hit came in the bottom of the fourth with two outs in the frame for the first Clippers hit of the day, but he would be stranded in scoring position. His single in the sixth moved teammate Yandy Diaz to third base and both would come around to score in the home half as Columbus put up four runs in the inning to take a 4-3 lead on the way to a 5-3 win.
The Clippers dropped an 11-10 final in the series finale with the Bats on Wednesday. Making the start in left field, Mejia tallied two hits again in six trips to the plate while also walking once. That walk came in the first inning and led to the first run of the game for Columbus as he scored on a two-run home run by fellow International League All-Star Brandon Barnes. Mejia flied out in the third, but he delivered a two-out RBI-double to center the very next inning to give the Clippers a 7-5 lead. After flying out in the sixth, Mejia added a single in the eighth, only to be stranded at third with the bases loaded as the potential tying run. He popped out for the final out of the game in the ninth.
In the three-game set against Louisville, Mejia was 6-for-12 with two doubles, two walks, and two runs scored.
Indianapolis came to Columbus for a four-game set beginning Thursday and Mejia made it six straight multi-hit games with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, coming up a triple short of the cycle while walking in his other plate appearance of the game. He was stranded at first after a two-out single in the first. He drew a walk with one down in the fourth and led off the sixth with a double. Leading off an inning for the second time in the eighth, he homered for the seventh time on the year to make it a 3-2 deficit. The Clippers rallied for three more runs in the inning and held on for a 5-3 win.
After a three-hit game Thursday, Mejia did himself one better on Friday night, going 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, two runs scored, and two runs batted in while working again as the DH. After grounding into a double play to end the first, he singled to start the fourth and scored on an Adam Rosales grand slam. He would come back around to hit later in the inning, doubling in a pair of runs in a seven-run, eleven-batter inning. He singled to start the bottom of the sixth and added another base hit with a two-out single in the eighth. The Clippers won their second straight, 10-6.
Mejia wasted no time making his contribution on Saturday in the Clippers’ 10-9 walk-off win over Indianapolis. He drove in the first of four first inning runs with a double and later came in to score himself on a three-run home run by backstop teammate Eric Haase. He extended his multi-hit hitting streak to eight straight with an RBI-double in the second and would score on Haase’s two-run double to make it a 7-0 ball game. Mejia was retired on a grounder to end the third, a strikeout for the first out in the sixth, and a liner in the eighth before Yu Chang won the game with a homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Mejia did not start in the series finale against the Indians, but entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter for Nellie Rodriguez in a 2-1 game in favor of the Clippers and drew an intentional pass. He extended his hitting streak to nine straight games with a single to lead off the eighth before scoring on a Rosales homer to break a 2-2 tie. Columbus would score three more times and completed the four-game sweep with an 8-3 victory.
He went 10-for-15 in his four games against Indianapolis with four doubles, a homer, and five runs batted in.
After a rough couple of months to open the season, Mejia has found his stride in a big way for Columbus. He followed a rough .187/.229/.286 line with five extra base hits and ten RBI in 21 April games with a slightly better, but still tough to digest, .192/.291/.301 mark with five more extra base knocks and just seven RBI in 22 May games.
In June, those unpalatable numbers were flipped, as he stroked 45 hits in 24 games (after hitting 31 combined in his first 43 games) with a .455/.476/.717 line. He contributed 14 doubles, four homers, and 23 RBI to the Clippers lineup in that stretch. He opened the month with a ten-game hitting streak, then started an eight-game hitting streak. After just his second hitless game in the month on June 22, he started his most recent ten-game hitting streak, one that included eight straight multi-hit games to start it.
The Player of the Week honor for Mejia marked the fourth time in his career that he was recognized in such a way, following selections in September of 2014 while with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, June of 2016 while a member of the Lake County Captains, and June of 2017 playing for the Akron RubberDucks. It is the fourth award won by a Columbus player this season (Shane Bieber, May 14-20 and May 21-27; Adam Plutko, May 28-June 3) and the first won by a position player.
Louisville reliever and fellow IL All-Star selection Kevin Quackenbush was named the IL Pitcher of the Week.
Photo: Columbus Clippers