CLEVELAND -- Every time Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy stepped into the batter's box this week at Progressive Field, the Cleveland crowd unleashed a loud chorus of boos. There is an argument to be made that Indians fans should actually have cheered Lucroy for his decision last summer.By vetoing a trade
CLEVELAND -- Every time Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy stepped into the batter's box this week at Progressive Field, the Cleveland crowd unleashed a loud chorus of boos. There is an argument to be made that Indians fans should actually have cheered Lucroy for his decision last summer.
By vetoing a trade to the Indians last year, Lucroy did Cleveland's farm system a favor, allowing the Tribe to keep highly touted catching prospect Francisco Mejia and three other players. Mejia is one of the Minor Leagues' rising stars, as evidenced by his being named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, along with pitching prospect Triston McKenzie, on Thursday.
"He continues to make great strides in his development," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said recently of Mejia. "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."
:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::
Mejia will suit up for the World roster and McKenzie will don a United States uniform for the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which takes place on Sunday, July 9, at 4 p.m. ET at Marlins Park in Miami and can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com. Among baseball's Top 100 Prospects via MLBPipeline.com, Mejia and McKenzie rank 34th and 48th, respectively. Mejia is considered the Indians' No. 2 prospect, with McKenzie right behind him at No. 3.
While trying to boost their roster for the team's run to the postseason last summer, the Indians reached an agreement with the Brewers on a trade that would have sent Mejia, outfielder Greg Allen, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang and pitcher Shawn Armstrong to Milwaukee in exchange for Lucroy. The deal fell apart when Lucroy exercised his no-trade clause, and he later approved a trade to the Rangers.
Tribe fans let Lucroy have it during the current four-game series in Cleveland.
"That's one thing I don't get too caught up with," Antonetti said of the fans booing Lucroy. "However, how our fans choose to respond to players is really up to them. I don't think anything that I say about it would really influence it one way or the other. I'm not sure I have much reaction to it."
Mejia was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason, and the 21-year-old catcher impressed the Indians' staff during his time in Spring Training. Through 52 games with Double-A Akron this year, the switch-hitter had a .343/.387/.577 slash line with nine homers, 16 doubles, two triples, 32 RBIs and 35 runs scored, while playing strong defense. That comes after Mejia hit .342 (.896 OPS) between stops with Class A Lake County and Class A Advanced Lynchburg last year, which included a 50-game hitting streak.
McKenzie, 19, has been a standout performer for the Indians since being taken with the 42nd overall pick (first round) in the 2015 MLB Draft. Through 33 career appearances, the right-hander had a 2.24 ERA with 220 strikeouts against 55 walks in 172 2/3 innings. In 14 starts for Lynchburg this year, McKenzie had 99 strikeouts, 30 walks and a 3.14 ERA in 77 1/3 innings.
"The numbers have been really good," Brad Grant, the Indians' senior director of amateur scouting, said earlier this month. "We always knew with Triston that nothing rocks him. He is steady as can be. He's going to go out and maximize his potential. He's doing that."
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.