It took a while, but San Diego Padres fans were treated to quite a show from their brand new rookie catcher.
As the 2018 MLB trade deadline approached, it seemed pretty clear that the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians were perfect trading partners. The Indians needed to upgrade the worst bullpen in Major League Baseball and were in need of at least one outfielder to finish filling out their lineup. The Padres had plenty of both.
The result was a trade that shocked most fans, as the Padres sent closer Brad Hand and rookie reliever Adam Cimber to Cleveland in exchange for the top catching prospect in baseball, Francisco Mejia. An A+ move by general manager AJ Preller.
Immediately, there were questions as to where Mejia would play on defense. Those questions were immediately answered when the Padres came out and said that Mejia would be sent to AAA El Paso to continue working on his catching, before making his debut with the big league ballclub.
Mejia appeared in 20 games for the Padres, hitting .185 with a .241 OBP and .389 slugging percentage. He recorded two doubles and three home runs, including his first-ever major league walk-off hit, which came in GRAND fashion.
The 30% strikeout rate (19 strikeouts in 54 at-bats) is concerning and opposing pitchers quickly realized that Mejia loves to jump on the first pitch he sees, often leading to him immediately falling behind in counts after pitchers stayed far away from the strike zone. Scouting reports consistently give Mejia an elite hit tool and after some consistent time in the major leagues, there is little doubt that it won’t develop.
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Mejia can take comfort in knowing that his defensive position is safe, for now. While the Indians experimented with him making a position switch, the Padres are determined to keep him at catcher and reaffirmed that position before Mejia went off for winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Sure, he needs some work in various areas of his defense, but that cannon for an arm is something else. It’s real and it’s elite.
His time in the big leagues was short-lived, so there’s only so much we can go off of, however, Mejia is another name on the ever-growing list of young, exciting prospects on or making their way to the Padres active roster. There is a real possibility that either Mejia or Austin Hedges are flipped at some point this offseason, but more than likely, both catchers remain on next year’s roster. If that’s the case, expect Hedges to remain the starter, and Mejia to earn at least 30% of the starts, if not more.
Our 2018 roster review series continues later this evening with a look at utility man, Cory Spangenberg.