PNO (Positive, Negative, Outlook): Francisco Mejia
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.
Mike is the sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser, and has been with East Village Times since 2015. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report. He is an avid Padres fan who is keeping the faith and trusting the process.
This trade still doesn’t make sense. There was a broad market for Hand and Cimber, and the club could’ve traded them elsewhere. Instead they brought back a catcher, the one position where they were looking okay. Does Preller even understand “roster construction”?
For instance, we have no 3bman. Also no SS, two no glove corner OFs, and a brutal starting rotation. And then there were the Realmuto rumors. Wait, what?!
Some organizations draft the best player, regardless of position. Perhaps that was the thinking with Mejia. The difference is with a drafted player you have 4+ years to sort everything out, with a ML ready player pieces have to fit right away.
As for being small and having difficulty creating a target for pitchers, at the ML level pitchers aim at the glove, not the catcher.
I’m not so sure that Mejia will be the PRIMARY catcher as the end of this article suggests (unless Hedges is indeed traded). I would be inclined to think Mejia will spend 2019 being the second catcher, and play more like 40% of the time to Hedges 60%. Mejia has huge upside, but his defense needs a lot of work. But learning from Hedges on how to frame pitches and to handle a pitching staff for a year, is going to help him tremendously. If this article was a year from now, I might believe it. As long as Hedges is a Padre, I have to think Mejia is a #2 catcher, plus a few games a month at 3B and LF and a pinch hitter to get him bat in the lineup.