This morning the Cleveland Indians reinforced their bullpen, trading top catching prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for left-hander Brad Hand and right-hander Adam Cimber. Hand is a veteran of course, while Cimber is a rookie and Mejia one of the better prospects in all of baseball, though his stock seemed down somewhat with the Indians. Here’s a quick take.
Adam Cimber, RHP: The Padres drafted Cimber in the ninth round in 2013 from the University of San Francisco. He had a strong campaign in the high minors in 2017 (2.90 in 81 innings, 65/10 K/BB) and parlayed that into a major league bullpen role this season. In his first 48 big league innings he has a 3.17 ERA with a 51/10 K/BB, a good way to start off his career.
Cimber is 27 years old, listed at 6-4, 180. He’s a submarine pitcher with a delivery angle that puts the Glomar Explorer to shame. Travis Sawchik at Fangraphs wrote a profile of Cimber back in May that is well worth your time. I don’t see any reason to doubt Cimber’s success and he should be an effective reliever for the Tribe.
Francisco Mejia, C: Mejia is the big name in the trade, as he entered 2018 as one of the top prospects in baseball. His campaign at Triple-A Columbus got off to a slow start and he was hitting under .200 on June 1st but he heated up from that point and boosted his slash line to .279/.328/.426 very quickly; hitting .455 in June will do that.
Mejia is 22-years-old, a switch-hitter listed at 5-10, 180. His offensive track record is quite good (career .291/.345/.444 hitter) and he made the necessary adjustments to overcome his cold start to ‘18. He should be a solid producer for batting average and at least moderate power.
The bigger question is defense. On paper Mejia has made good progress with the glove, playing errorless ball and throwing out 35% of runners this year in Triple-A. On the other hand scouting reports on his defense lately have been negative, with receiving and blocking skills reported as stagnant or even declining. The Indians themselves seemed down on his defense and he’s spent considerable time playing left field this year.
It will be interesting to see how the Padres assess his defense. Mejia is an elite prospect if he can catch but just a decent one if he turns out to be a mediocre left fielder. I have been optimistic about his long-term projection with the glove but the negative reviews this year do give me pause. If his glove turns out OK then the Padres did a good job buying low.