Francisco Mejía

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Francisco Jose Mejia

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 175 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia signed with the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent before the 2013 season. The scouts were Ramon Pena and Felix Nivar. In 2016, he had one of the longest hitting streaks in minor league history.

In his professional debut with the AZL Indians in 2013, Francisco hit .305 in 30 games. He followed that in 2014 with a .282/.339/.407 batting line in 66 games with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn League. In 2015, he was with the lake County Captains of the Midwest League, where he hit .243 with 9 homers and 53 RBIs in 109 games. He had done nothing to distinguish himself as a top-tier prospect by that point, even though his numbers were nice considering his age and defensive position. Baseball America rated him as Cleveland's #10 prospect and the best defensive catcher in the Indians organization.

All that changed in 2016 when he went on an absolute tear in mid-year. He was back with Lake County to start the year and in 60 games he hit a scorching .347 with 17 doubles and 7 homers to earn a promotion to the Lynchburg Hillcats of the Carolina League on June 29th, moving from Low A to High A ball. At the time of the promotion, he had hit safely in his last 24 games for Lake County, starting on May 27th, and then just kept on hitting with the Hillcats. On August 9th, the streak reached 48 games, the longest in the minor leagues since Roman Mejias had hit in 55 straight games in 1954. There were only six longer recorded streaks ahead of his, and all of these had been accomplished in 1945 or before, barring the one by his near-namesake. Ironically, he had almost been traded in the middle of the streak, as on July 29th, Jonathan Lucroy had vetoed a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Indians that had Francisco as the key piece being acquired in return. He had also recorded a hit while playing for the World team in the 2016 Futures Game, although that did not count in the total. The streak ended after 50 games. He returned to the Futures Game in 2017, again as part of the World team.

Mejia made his major league debut with the Indians on September 1, 2017 and collected his first hit and RBI three days later, off James Shields of the Chicago White Sox.

He was named to the World team for the 2018 Futures Game but was called up to Cleveland for a couple of games the day before the game was to be played and was replaced on the roster. He started at DH for the Indians against the New York Yankees on July 14th and drew a pair of walks in a 5-4 loss. On July 19th, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for Adam Cimber and Brad Hand. There were high expectations for him in San Diego, where he was seen as the catcher of the future, but he never could take the final step. In his first year, he hit .185 in 20 games, but he had a pretty decent season in 2019. In 79 games, he hit .265 with 8 homers and 22 RBIs. The Padres' starter, Austin Hedges, was an outstanding defensive catcher but not at all a hitter, and the path seemed open for Mejia. But he regressed badly in the shortened 2020 season, managing just 3 hits in 39 at-bats, for a dreadful batting average of .077. With Hedges still not hitting and the Padres in contention for the postseason, they decided to shake up their catching corps for the stretch run, acquiring Austin Nola and Jason Castro to share catching duties, while dispatching away Hedges and another youngster, Luis Torrens. Mejia remained with the Padres but appeared in just one game in September and none in the postseason, as he seemed to no longer be part of the team's future plans. On December 27th, his name was mentioned as one of four prospects traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, alongside Luis Patino, Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox. He was joining a team with two solid defensive catchers in Mike Zunino and Michael Perez, neither of whom had been even close to the Mendoza line in 2020.

In his first season with Tampa Bay in 2021, he hit .260 with 6 homers and 35 RBIs in 84 games, with an OPS+ of 105. However, Zunino had an All-Star season, limiting his playing time in spite of his nice hitting. In the postseason, Zunino started all four games of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, with Francisco being limited to just one plate appearance, which resulted in a walk.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Mejia adds versatility to repertoire in offseason: Indians' top prospect shows willingness to shift between home plate, hot corner",, January 11, 2018. [1]
  • Daniel Kramer: "Mejia extends streak to 48, again in first AB: Indians No. 4 prospect holds seventh-longest run in Minor League history; best since 1954",, August 9, 2016. [2]

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