Inbox: Will Tribe make call for Mejia?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers fans' questions

July 3rd, 2017

Indians fans are understandably excited about Franciso Mejia. He has been a prolific hitter over the past two seasons and rates as a plus defender behind the plate. With in the Majors, Mejia is now Cleveland's No. 1 prospect (per and will be playing in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday
You bring up an appropriate point, though. While Mejia is rising fast in stock and Minor League level, both of the Indians' big league catchers, and , are signed to multi-year contracts. Gomes is signed through 2019 with team options for '20 and '21. Perez is inked through 2020 with team options for '21 and '22.
Cleveland's catchers currently rank 26th in the Majors in offensive production (67 weighted Runs Created Plus) this year, after ranking last in MLB in 2016 (46 wRC+). While both Gomes and Perez rate as above-average defenders (their skills at pitch calling, framing and controlling the running game are strong across the board), some fans tend to clamor for Mejia when the catchers are slumping at the plate.
As of this writing, Mejia was batting .343 with a .955 OPS in 55 games (233 plate appearances) at Double-A Akron. That is the extent of his Double-A experience and he has yet to be tested at Triple-A (a step that might come later this year for the 21-year-old).
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"[Mejia] continues to make great strides in his development," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said recently. "He only has a half season at Double-A at this point, and he has some things he continues to work through developmentally and is continuing to work on. Hopefully he can continue on the path, because if he is, he's on the path to being a very good Major League player. But, it is not as easy as calling a guy up and expecting him to perform in the Major Leagues the same as he is in the Minor Leagues."

Earlier this year, the feedback from the Indians was that was getting too "pull happy" at the plate. That has improved lately and now his season rates (39.5-percent pull, 35.2-percent center and 25.3-percent opposite field) are almost identical to last year (39.1, 35.6, 25.3). There is also not much difference in his swing rates in or out of the zone.
The only thing that jumps out right now -- aside from his early-season power spike -- has been a slight change in his contact rate. His contact rate on pitchers outside the zone has jumped to 75.8 percent from 71.4 percent last year.

Some of that has to do with him swinging at more offspeed pitches (20.7 percent) this year than in '16 (18.8 percent), per Statcast™. Lindor's slugging percentage on offspeed pitches has jumped to .525 this year (compared to .425 in '16), but that's come with a drop in average on those pitches (.245 in '17; .294 in '16). Along those lines, Lindor's prodoction against fastballs (.247 average and .401 slugging) is down from last season (.307 average and .443 slugging).

Last year, Cleveland's major need was relief help and they sent a package of prospects to the Yankees to land relief ace . Right now, the clear need looks like rotation help. I'd expect the Indians to once again be aggressive on that front as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. In a perfect world, would return healthy and impact the staff. That doesn't seem like a safe bet in the immediate picture.
Where do you see , and possibly , fitting into the outfield plans for the second half? Assuming everyone else stays healthy.
-- Bridget P., Cleveland

It's hard to see where either player fits into the current MLB outfield alignment. Almonte has a Minor League option, so when he's ready to come off the disabled list, he could be sent to Triple-A. Given Zimmer's emergence -- and the platoon of and in right field -- Naquin will probably stay at Triple-A until a need arises.

Since we're not to the All-Star break, let's compare through 81 games played.
2017: .258/.334/.434 slash, 390 runs scored
2016: .258/.320/.430 slash, 390 runs scored
2017: 44-37, 3.88 ERA, 8.1 H/9, 1.2 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 10.0 K/9
2016: 49-32, 3.58 ERA, 7.9 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

Check out, which is where Statcast™ information is both searchable and posted in real-time. As for that specific home run, it had an exit velocity of 106 mph, a launch angle of 29 degrees and traveled a projected 415 feet.