Francisco Mejia headlines a talented crop of Indians prospects playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in this year's Arizona Fall League, a group that includes four position players and pitchers apiece. Just don't expect to see MLBPipeline.com's top-ranked catching prospect behind the plate at any point this fall.Learning to play
Francisco Mejia headlines a talented crop of Indians prospects playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in this year's Arizona Fall League, a group that includes four position players and pitchers apiece. Just don't expect to see MLBPipeline.com's top-ranked catching prospect behind the plate at any point this fall.
Learning to play a new position is commonplace in the Fall League, as teams view it as an opportunity to offer its rising prospects work at a secondary position in a competitive-but-low-risk environment, with the ultimate goal of improving the players' chances of contributing in the Major Leagues.
For Mejia, Cleveland's No. 1 prospect (No. 13 overall), that means working as a third baseman exclusively this fall after a career spent behind the plate.
"I like it," Mejia said about his work at the hot corner. "I've been taking ground balls, working with the managers. I took plenty of ground balls at the position while with Cleveland."
Mejia received his first taste of the Majors this year as a September callup. The 21-year-old switch-hitter was promoted directly from Double-A Akron, where he had batted .297/.346/.490 with a career-high 14 home runs in 92 games.
But as the third catcher on the playoff-bound Indians' roster, Mejia's opportunities understandably were limited down the stretch. He appeared in 11 games with the Tribe, going 2-for-11 at the plate and logging four innings behind it defensively.
• Arizona Fall League roster & stats
But with neither Yan Gomes nor Roberto Perez going anywhere soon, Mejia understands the importance of learning a new position at this stage in his young career, especially given how much the Indians covet his hitting ability.
"They have two great catchers in Gomes and Perez," said Mejia, "and I learned a lot while I was there. [In the AFL] I'm trying to play a different position so I have a chance to play in the big leagues."
Mejia played his one and only game at third base with Akron in late August ahead of his promotion to the big leagues. Prior to that, he had logged all but one game at his natural position.
In the Fall League, Mejia served as Glendale's designated hitter in four games before finally making his first start at third base on Wednesday. He had two chances in the field, the second of which he completed successfully after committing a throwing error in the second inning.
However, all of that extra work at third base doesn't mean that the Indians have given up on Mejia as a catcher. He continues to get in as many non-game reps there as possible, working closely with the Tribe's AFL pitchers.
"I think I miss catching because I've always played catcher," he said, "but I get a chance to catch bullpens every day out here and stay sharp."
Indians hitters in the Fall League
Bobby Bradley, 1B -- The 21-year-old slugger made impressive strides at the plate in his first Double-A campaign before finishing with a .251/.331/.465 line, 23 home runs and 89 RBIs. It was a product of a vastly improved approach that saw the Indians' No. 3 prospect reduce his strikeout rate to 22.9 percent after fanning 29.7 percent of the time with Class A Advanced Lynchburg in 2016.
"I went with a more aggressive approach this year," Bradley said. "Not taking so many pitches and looking for a walk. At the beginning of the year I kind of struggled a little bit, but as I found out different things in my swing and approach it helped me."
Tyler Krieger, 2B -- Krieger's success with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic didn't carry over as hoped into the regular season, as the Indians' No. 19 prospect batted just .225/.303/.337 in 119 games with Akron. The Indians are hopeful that the 23-year-old switch-hitter, who possesses an intriguing combination of hitting ability and speed, will get back on track this fall.
Ka'ai Tom, OF -- A member of Glendale's taxi squad, Tom put himself on the radar in his first fully healthy professional season by hitting .254/.340/.418 over 126 games with Lynchburg. The 23-year-old outfielder stands out most for his power-speed package, which netted him 48 extra-base hits and 23 steals this past season.
Indians pitchers in the Fall League
Argenis Angulo, RHP -- A 19th-round pick in 2014, Angulo appeared in a career-high 41 games while going 15-for-17 in save opportunities with Lynchburg. A Carolina League midseason All-Star, the 23-year-old righty pitched to a 2.29 ERA with 68 strikeouts and a .160 batting average against in 55 innings.
Sean Brady, LHP -- Brady is using the Fall League to make up some of the innings that he lost due to a shoulder injury during the regular season. The 23-year-old left-hander did, however, finish his season on a high note with Lynchburg by tossing seven innings of one-run ball with six hits and four strikeouts.
Luke Eubank, RHP -- Also missing considerable time in 2017 was the right-hander Eubank, though, like Brady, he recovered in time to pitch well out of the bullpen for Lynchburg down the stretch. Making 12 relief appearances after being activated from the disabled list in mid-July, Eubank posted a 1.42 ERA with three saves while limiting opposing hitters to a .128 clip.
Leandro Linares, RHP -- The 23-year-old right-hander split his season between Lynchburg and Akron, faring better at the former than the latter. He posted a 2.56 ERA with eight saves (in 14 chances) over 42 games between the two stops, compiling 57 strikeouts and 32 walks in 56 1/3 innings.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.