The San Diego Padres youth rebellion just got stronger. The Friars nabbed arguably the best catching prospect in baseball, acquiring Francisco Mejia from the Cleveland Indians for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.
We know what the Indians got. With Andrew Miller beginning his rehab assignment, the Tribe bolstered what should become one of the best bullpens in the American League when all put together.
Brad Hand was arguably the most-coveted reliever left on the market. The controllable lefty was a menace to left-handed hitters this season allowing a .148 batting average against and a .535 OPS. Just 28, the Indians have Hand locked up through 2020 with an option in 2021.
The Indians also receive 27-year-old Adam Cimber. The sidearmer is an intriguing story having a breakthrough rookie season. The righty was striking out 9.5-per-nine while walking just 1.9-per-nine. A primarily ground ball pitcher, he has allowed just two home runs while taking care of business against righties. It is a different tale against lefties, but in a much deeper bullpen now in Cleveland, Cimber may have a much more defined role.
The 2013 ninth-rounder had a long climb to the majors but is certainly making the most out of his rookie campaign. He now heads to a contender at a very favorable cost with the ability to make an instant impact.
So, what did the Padres get?
Francisco Mejia, C/IF/OF
Mejia has been atop prospect charts for the past three seasons now, his rise highlighted by one of the best bats in the minor leagues. The 22-year-old backstop out of the Domincan Republic is listed at a generous 5’10” and his 180 pounds are all muscle. While there will be lingering concerns about if he can stick behind home plate, his bat will certainly play at the next level.
There was nothing left for Mejia’s bat to prove in the minors this season, but the Indians have a solid roster in the big leagues that they were able to let him develop defensively. The switch-hitter started off slowly but exploded in June, slashing .455/.476/.717 with a 1.193 OPS in his final full month as a Cleveland Indian.
Mejia has always been aggressive at the plate, but he has solid control and barrels up the ball from both sides of the plate. He often makes hard, loud contact, but most of his power seems to generate from the left-handed side, though he seems to consistently drive the ball from the right-hand side of the plate with an ability to spray the ball around to all fields. His power should continue to develop coming off of a career-high 14 last season, but he has always had more of a ground ball tendency, making him a much more feared hitter than slugger.
The Indians began to experiment with Mejia elsewhere from behind the plate in the Arizona Fall League and continued this season in the minors. He played the majority of his games behind the plate, but made 23 appearances in left field, seven in right and one at the hot corner. There is zero doubt about Mejia’s arm, hence the possible moves to third and the corner outfield positions, as he has one of the best cannons in the minor leagues. He took great strides behind the plate last season in earning his pitcher’s trust and learning English to better communicate and call games. The Indians experiment was likely as much to do with getting him versatility to keep that bat in the lineup everyday. There were also rumors that Mejia was not privy to a move from backstop, which is perhaps what made him expendable.
Mejia was the top Indians prospect, but he goes to a Padres system loaded with top-end talent. Though he may not supplant Fernando Tatis, Jr. at No. 1, he may be headed directly to the big-league squad. With the Austin Hedges experiment seemingly never coming to fruition and an aging A.J Ellis a platoon catcher at best, Mejia should be able to grab the catching spot and run with it quickly. If, however, the Padres view him as a super-utility player, he may be headed to Triple-A to work on his new positions.