Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #9 Francisco Mejia

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #9 Francisco Mejia

Still only 20 years old, switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia comes in at Number 9 on our 2016 Cleveland Indians Top Prospect countdown.

Who is Francisco Mejia?

Mejia joined the Indians as an amateur free agent in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic. He made his Tribe debut in 2013 at their Rookie Level Affiliate in Arizona at just 17 years of age.  The now 20-year old catcher is a switch-hitter standing 5’10” and weighing about 175 pounds.  He spent all of 2015 with the Tribe’s Class-A Lake County Captains and was one of only three teenagers that were their team’s everyday catchers in the Midwest League.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Despite always being one of the youngest players at each spot, Mejia has shown the ability to hold his own offensively.  He burst onto the scene in 2013 when he hit .305 as a 17-year-old in his first professional action, quite impressive even if it was in only 30 games. He followed that up in 2014 hitting .282 with a 119 wRC+ (weighted runs created) with the Short-Season Mahoning Valley Scrappers.  2015 wasn’t quite on par, as he only hit .243 with a 99 wRC+ with the Class-A Lake County Captains. However, while that may not seem impressive, consider this, he actually ranked 9th out of 22 catchers in the Midwest League with that 99 wRC+ (minimum 200 plate appearances). 

More from Away Back Gone

Despite the drop in overall numbers, there were some positives signs in 2015. His walk rate has steadily climbed each year, from 4.4% in 2013 to 6.6% in 2014 to an impressive 8.5% in 2015. His strikeout rate remained level in 2015 despite the jump in walks, sitting at a reasonable 17.5%.  Mejia is showing a great feel for hitting, making very good, solid contact from both sides of the plate. He also makes up for his lack in size with great bat speed that gives him some raw power that should develop more as he matures.

Defensively Mejia has proven to be not only up to the task behind the plate, but showing that he has the potential to be well above average back there. He has a cannon for an arm, something that’s always been there for him. However, he’s starting to show that he’s more than a great arm behind the plate. He’s improved his English as well, which may seem like an odd thing to point out, but is instrumental in a catcher’s ability to better work with his pitcher. He’s improving his footwork behind the plate each season as well. For a catcher, he’s not exactly slow but speed is hardly something he’ll be known for going forward.

Overall Mejia is a young kid with some of the biggest potential in the system. He’s simply very young still and while the dream is big he’s got a ways to go to realize it. Consistency is still a big key with him and with more experience that should (hopefully) come.  He’s been higher on lists in past years and it’s that upside that keeps him from falling out of the top ten here along with his positional value (catching versus other positions is hardly apples to apples).

Where Does He Go From Here?

After a solid showing in Lake County, Mejia looks to continue his steady ascension through the Tribe’s system. He’ll most likely open at Advanced-A Lynchburg in 2016 as their everyday catcher. He’ll look to continue to refine his skills behind the plate and work on his game calling. While one hopes the bat rebounds, for me that’s less important for the young catcher at this stage.  That said, I’m very optimistic that his bat will improve as he grows and matures. I’m a big fan of bat speed and Mejia has it. I’m also very encouraged by the improved plate discipline he showed, and I look for that to continue.

Next: Indians Top Prospects: #10 Yandy Diaz

While he’s still a ways off from being in Cleveland, he’s one of my favorite prospects in the system. He’s gotten some Carlos Santana comparisons due to his size/bat, and while that may be a tad aggressive, it’s not completely without merit. His glove at this stage is also more advanced and refined than Santana’s was.  There’s a reason that publications like Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs have had Mejia among their top 100/101 prospects the last couple years. He may be a high-risk prospect due to his age, he’s one of the biggest ceiling prospects as well. With a rebound year offensively at Lynchburg, he could be a top-five guy in the Tribe system this time next season.