Francisco Mejia’s plans to travel to Washington, DC, for Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game have been cancelled.
The Cleveland Indians recalled their top prospect, the 22-year-old catcher turned outfielder, ahead of their Saturday night contest with the New York Yankees from Progressive Field. The 22-year-old will bat sixth in the lineup and serve as the team’s designated hitter against another former Indians top prospect, 37-year-old left-hander CC Sabathia.
To make the move possible, the Indians optioned right-hander Shane Bieber to Columbus. The demotion had nothing to do with his performance on Friday night, when he fired seven-plus innings against the Yankees, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts. The move will allow him to pitch through the Indians’ All-Star break, keeping him on pace to pitch after the MLB schedule resumes on Friday.
The recall of the switch-hitting Mejia was a bit of a surprise as the Indians have steadily put off bringing up the young prospect as they gradually increased his work load in the outfield this season. His name has been one of the more heavily discussed over the last couple of months as fans and the media pondered potential moves that could be made to strength the Indians’ chances of a long postseason run.
Despite a slew of outfield-related injuries that have thinned the ranks in Cleveland, Mejia had remained in the minors with Triple-A Columbus for much of the 2018 campaign, with the exception of a brief call-up in mid-June when Roberto Perez was banged up and his status was up in the air. When Perez was deemed healthy, Mejia was optioned back to the minors.
Mejia had been on a tear in Columbus of late. He was named to the International League’s All-Star Game, held earlier this week, in his third straight midseason All-Star nod and the fourth of his professional career. He was on pace to participate in his third straight MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Nationals Park. His strong play at the end of June earned him a Player of the Week honor from the International League on July 1.
Mejia had a horrendous start to the season. In 21 games in April, he slashed .187/.229/.286 with three doubles, two homers, and ten RBI. He was just a bit better in 22 May dates, putting up a .192/.291/.301 slash with three more doubles, a triple, one homer, and seven RBI.
In June, he slashed into those numbers with an impressive month. In 24 games, he hit .455 with a .476 on-base percentage and a .717 slugging mark with 14 doubles, four homers, and 23 RBI. While he drew only three walks for the month, he cut back on his strikeouts and exceeded his season production with that single month’s effort in nearly every offensive category.
As rumors have circulated more and more about whether Mejia would be relocated to upgrade the Indians’ bullpen or offense at the trade deadline, his bat has cooled in Columbus as his ten-game hitting streak ended on July 3. He has hits in six of his ten July appearances, batting .206 with a .270 OBP and a .235 slugging mark in those games with one double and three runs batted in. In one of his four hitless games, he left after being hit by a pitch in his only plate appearance of that July 8 game.
In 77 games at Triple-A this season, Mejia has provided the Clippers with a .279/.329/.428 slash with 21 doubles, one triple, seven homers, and 43 RBI. He appeared in eleven games for the Indians last season in his first exposure at the MLB level, getting two singles, an intentional walk, and one RBI in 14 plate appearances.
It is unknown how the Tribe will utilize him and for how long as he could return to the Clippers after Sunday’s first half finale. He has worked in 40 games this season behind the plate for the Clippers, 23 in left field, and seven more in right field.
Photo: Joe Santry/MiLB.com