Francisco Mejia is the young marvel acquired by the Padres this past July from the Indians. The switch-hitting catcher with a rocket arm has a very high upside.
Since the July 2018 trade that brought him to the San Diego Padres organization, catcher Francisco Mejia has brought much acclaim and excitement with him.
He has teased with potential his entire minor league career with many highlights to speak of. One of these included his assault on the history books with the longest minor league hitting streak in over 62 years at 50 games in a row in the summer of 2016, while in the Indians organization.
His prospect pedigree is justified by his three straights years being elected to the world team during the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game from 2016-2018. Upon his promotion to the Padres major league team, he proceeded to hit two home runs in his first start against the Reds at the Great American Ballpark. He also had a walk-off grand slam against the Rangers in front of his new home crowd at Petco.
Coming from humble beginnings, Francisco was born in the Dominican Republic city of Bani’, which means “abundant water”. The saying for young baseball players in the D.R. is that you have to “hit your way off the island”, and hit he did.
Mejia was signed during the international signing period of 2012, by the Cleveland Indians for roughly $100,000. He began his baseball career in the States the following season in the Arizona Summer League where he got his feet wet not only in the game but also immersing himself into the culture for the first time.
Challenging as it is for any 17-18 year old who is hundreds of miles away from their friends and family, he put his head to the grindstone and put work into his craft which contributed to his meteoric rise thru the Indians’ minor league system. A switch-hitting catcher with an advanced eye at the plate and arm strength to spare will get other teams attention as well.
Safe to say, when A.J. Preller came calling again to Indians GM Mike Chernoff in July of 2018 about his possible bullpen reinforcements available, he had his gaze upon the number one catching prospect in all of baseball. Rumors had swirled around the Indians and Mejia for the better sense of the previous year with the Indians trying to find a way to fit Mejia onto the major league roster with two proven catchers already there in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.
During the AFL of 2017, they even tried their own Wil Myers experiment and had Mejia play third base to see if they could get that valuable switch-hitting bat in the lineup on a more consistent basis. Ultimately, he wound up being dealt to the Padres for LHP Brad Hand and RHP Adam Cimber.
Getting into the meat and potatoes of the skills he brings to the table, would have to begin with his rocket of an arm and his contact-oriented bat. Andy Green has mentioned during pre and post-game interviews, that Francisco possesses one of the strongest arms of any catcher he has been around in all his years of baseball. He plays with a true “80” arm strength tool which is at the very top end of the spectrum. That is the kind of arm that produces frozen ropes from home to second with minimal effort.
Working with Austin Hedges and new bench coach Rod Barajas will only help smooth out of the rough edges of catching and receiving while shoring up any question marks moving into the future regarding his defense.
Not once at any minor league stop, did he have a K% higher than 19% nor a BB% lower than 5.3% outside of his first year in the Arizona Rookie League. Never hitting more than 14 home runs during a minor league season, he demonstrated elite bat speed powered by “Popeye forearms” and strong wrists that allow him to whip the bat thru the zone as evident by his ability to turn on Reds’ pitcher Luis Castillo‘s 97 mph fastball on the inner half into the upper tank of the GAB.
They usually say power is the last thing to manifest for young hitters, and Padre fans might be benefitting from another ideal trade conducted by Preller and the front office. He didn’t fleece Cleveland of a player they didn’t properly scout or was light years from the majors, he just held a hard bargain and leveraged a team and a city that was in dire need to push their roster possibly over the top. With the needed bullpen additions, they were willing to sacrifice a star of tomorrow for the promise of today.
Hopefully, sooner than later, Padres fans will sympathize with Indians fans as we look to push for that last piece to push us over the top and into the world series for the first time since 1998.