Cleveland Indians: Why Francisco Mejia can skip Triple A

Mar 10, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Francisco Mejia (73) gets ready for a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Francisco Mejia (73) gets ready for a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Indians probably won’t promote top prospect Francisco Mejia from Class AA, but there’s an argument to made as to why they should.

Offensively, the Cleveland Indians catcher position has become as close to an automatic out as you’re going to get in the American League.

Yan Gomes is slashing .224/.306/.360 with four homers, 19 RBIs, 10 doubles. He hardly walks and is striking out 26.5 percent of the time. Roberto Perez hit two homers in Game 1 of the World Series, but has just one moonshot in 2017. He’s slashing .224/.306/.360 with four homers, 19 RBIs, 10 doubles.

Don’t this numbers make you want to take a look at Francisco Mejia, the Tribe’s top prospect who is tearing up the minor leagues?

Don’t be misunderstood by this column. The Indians won’t be promoting Mejia. He’s only 21, and while he impressed the Tribe with his defensive duties, he could still use some work behind the dish.

Sandy Alomar Jr. recently spoke about Mejia’s future, and talked about how time in the minors helped him, via Zack Meisel of

"“Catching is not a position you want to rush. It’s a position [in which] you want to make sure you are completely developed behind the dish and unless you have an emergency or something like that, it’s always good to have those developmental stages.”"

In 51 games, Mejia, who was just named to the Eastern League All-Star team, is slashing .349/.392/.594 with 30 RBIs and 16 doubles. He strikes about about 15.6 percent of the time.

It’s rare to find a talent that completely skips Triple A, but it would be intriguing to see Mejia’s bat inject some life into an inconsistent Indians offense.

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Most recently, left fielder Andrew Benintendi skipped Class AAA, joining the Boston Red Sox last season en route to the team’s AL Eastern Division crown. In 2017, Benintendi is batting .275 with 10 homers striking out around 15 percent of the time, much like Mejia.

Twins third baseman Miguel Sano jumped Class AAA, too, and is in his third season in the Majors.

Budding Astros star Alex Bregman was a star of last year’s MLB Future’s Game during the 2016 All-Star break. He played just 18 games at the Triple-A level before getting his shot. Bergman is batting .252 in 287 plate appearances.

Benintendi and Bregman entered the minors backed by the experience of playing for Major Division I college programs. Benintendi went to Arkansas, and Bregman went to LSU.

The last cather to be promoted from Double A? It happened earlier this year in Cincinnati, when Stuart Turner made his debut as the Reds’ backstop in April. Turner isn’t nearly the prospect that Mejia is, but Cincinnati needed him at the start of the year. Turner injured his hamstring and did a rehab stint with the Class AAA Louisville Bats, where he hit .237, not far off his career minors average of .241.

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Cleveland is probably smart in that it doesn’t want to rush Mejia, but if he can develop his catching skills enough to the point he could be promoted from Akron.

In a 2015 story from the Hardball Times published a story on why some players are able to make the jump. Long story short: Double-A is really the last stop for development. Triple-A is more of an inventory for the big-league roster. Sure prospects are there, but so are players in the their late 20s and early 30s who aren’t quite good enough to be an everyday contributor at the big-league level.

Some interesting article nuggets that relate to Mejia:

From Baseball Prospectus’ Al Skorupa:

"“In Double-A, it’s time to stop focusing on developmental issues with players and shift focus to ‘how can this player help the major league team in the near future?’ You really are just a phone call from the majors once you hit Double-A, so we’ve gotten to the point there where teams are thinking of your place on the depth chart.”"

Class AA ball is really the first chance a player gets tested. God Given talent alone doesn’t cut it. There’s 60 A-Ball rosters, and only 30 Double A teams, so the talent pool goes the way of “Survival of the fittest.”

In Double-A, prospects really begin to show their stuff.

"It’s the level where weaknesses are often uncovered — that hole in a hitter’s swing now exposed, that pitcher’s inconsistent command now a problem that needs fixing. If you excel in Double-A, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a shot in the majors, and sometimes you’ll even bypass Triple-A altogether."

That last sentence: Mejia’s is dominating the Class AA ranks at the dish. He has familiarity with the Indians’ staff from spring training. This isn’t to say he’s going to be better than Yan Gomes defensively, who is among the better defensive catchers in the game, especially when it comes to throwing baserunners out.

But perhaps, later in the season, the Indians front office will change their tune about Mejia. Promoting the prospect could be like a trade the team didn’t have to make.

Next: How much did Indians draft pick Tyler Freeman sign for?

Unlikely, but something to think about.