OAKLAND -- While Roberto Perez was guiding Indians starter Trevor Bauer through another solid start on Friday night, catching prospect Francisco Mejia was continuing his torrid streak at the plate for Triple-A Columbus. Mejia collected four hits, marking his seventh multi-hit game in a row.Mejia's incredible offensive showing in June
OAKLAND -- While Roberto Perez was guiding Indians starter Trevor Bauer through another solid start on Friday night, catching prospect Francisco Mejia was continuing his torrid streak at the plate for Triple-A Columbus. Mejia collected four hits, marking his seventh multi-hit game in a row.
Mejia's incredible offensive showing in June for the Clippers has some Tribe fans wondering why the Indians' top prospect has not found his way back to the Major Leagues. Yan Gomes has been one of the American League's top catchers so far this year, but Perez has struggled at the plate (.141/.231/.228 in 92 at-bats) as the backup.
Indians manager Terry Francona emphasized again on Saturday that Perez's worth extends beyond the batter's box.
"We signed Roberto to a four-year contract," Francona said. "And it's not just your batting average. We'd love all our guys to be hitting .300 -- that'd be great. But you're talking about running a staff, doing all the things that 'Berto has taken the time to learn. Now, I don't want to [downplay what Mejia is doing]. I'm thrilled the kid Mejia is doing what he's doing, because I think we all feel like this kid's going to help us.
"The other thing is you've got a young kid. You don't want him to come up and sit the bench. That's not developing. On the flip side of that, we called him up for that one day, because we thought it might give him a shot in the arm. He wasn't doing very good, and then he took off. So, maybe that helped."
Since his one-day stint in the Majors on June 11, the 22-year-old Mejia -- rated as the top-ranked catching prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline -- has hit .500 with a 1.301 OPS in 16 games. Through 23 games in June, the switch-hitter had a .457 average and a 1.192 OPS with 17 multi-hit games.
Mejia was batting .178 with a .513 OPS after an 0-for-5 showing on May 24, but has hit at a .443 (1.167 OPS) since then in 116 plate appearances. On the year, he is batting .287 with seven homers, 18 doubles, 26 runs and 38 RBIs in 66 games for Columbus.
Due to having Gomes and Perez in the big leagues, Mejia has split his time between catching (35 starts) and the outfield (20 starts) this season. Francona reminded that Mejia's transition to the outfield remains a work in progress.
"He's not ready," Francona said. "But I think there was some talk of trying to play him a little bit more, maybe with trying to have next year be an option. Like, when you go into the winter, at least having it be an option. The hard thing is he really wants to be a catcher. And I understand that. We're trying to tell him, 'Hey, we think you're a good catcher, but if you can do this, you might get to the big leagues quicker.' Until a kid's sold on it, though, I'm not sure."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook