The San Diego Padres traded for Francisco Mejia, and it was a bit of a surprise to many as the team already had Austin Hedges on the roster. Here is a look at Mejia as the young catcher got some real consistent playing time with the Padres in 2018.
Francisco Mejia was acquired by the Padres last July in what was one of the biggest trades before the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.
Mejia was acquired in exchange for All-Star left-handed pitcher Brad Hand, and right-handed pitcher Adam Cimber. He spent most of the second half of the season at Triple-A El Paso. The switch-hitter was the top catching prospect in baseball at the time he was acquired. He made his Padres debut on Sep. 5 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Today, we will take a look at the positives, negatives, and outlook for the Padres’ young stud catcher.
Mejia slugged .582 in 31 games with the Chihuahuas. That number wasn’t an anomaly, but something expected when the Padres traded their All-Star closer. Mejia slugged above .400 consistently while playing for the Cleveland Indians’ organization.
The catcher continued that trend after being assigned to Triple-A El Paso. He made his debut with the Padres on Sep. 5 and slugged .389 through 31 games. It’s only a sample size, but it’s an indication of what he can do in a Padres uniform going forward.
The Padres have Mejia under team control for at least five more seasons. He has two years of pre-arbitration remaining. When he was acquired, he was added to a list of highly-ranked prospects that are expected to be a winning core in the future.
In addition to hitting for power, Mejia has been very good at making contact. In 2018, he made contact with pitches in the strike zone 80.9 percent of the time. Outside the zone, he made contact 69.1 percent of the time. His swinging strike percentage was just 15.1 percent.
Mejia is good at making contact with the ball, even outside the zone, but his walk percentage has suffered as a result. In 2018, his walk percentage was just 8.1 percent. That number is in line with all of the previous seasons in his career.
In all Mejia’s time in the minors, his on-base percentage has been above .300. That number would have been much higher if he laid off pitches outside the strike zone and drew more walks.
Though he is blessed with one of the best arms in the game, there are some real concerns about Francisco Mejia and his abilities behind the plate. He is small and has some problems creating a real target for pitchers.
It will take time for him to adjust and get better behind the plate. Mejia also needs to work on pitch calling and building a positive report with his pitchers. These are all things that take time when you are a new catcher in the league.
Mejia had a .185/.241/.389 triple-slash line with the Padres in 2018. As he gets more reps in the National League, expect those numbers to only get higher. His batting average and on-base percentage were both low, but that is in line with his time at the major league level while playing for Cleveland. With more experience, he should improve.
Mejia is on a roster with Austin Hedges, one of the best defensive catchers in the National League. One of the questions heading into spring training is who will win a majority of the time behind the plate, should both catchers still be on the roster when spring training begins.
Both catchers have been mentioned in trade rumors over the winter, and the Padres have been said to be interested in acquiring J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins. None of this has amounted to anything more than rumors. For now, expect Mejia to be the primary catcher going forward. After all, the Padres traded an All-Star to acquire him.