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Mejia makes his mark in tough loss for Padres

September 15, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Francisco Mejia wasted no time endearing himself to Padres fans at Petco Park on Friday night. Playing in San Diego for the first time since the 2016 Futures Game, Mejia put his unique skillset on full display in a 4-0 loss to Texas.One batter into the game,

SAN DIEGO -- Francisco Mejia wasted no time endearing himself to Padres fans at Petco Park on Friday night. Playing in San Diego for the first time since the 2016 Futures Game, Mejia put his unique skillset on full display in a 4-0 loss to Texas.
One batter into the game, the 22-year-old backstop -- rated as MLB Pipeline's top catching prospect -- showed off his otherworldy throwing arm. After Delino DeShields' leadoff single, Mejia delivered a one-hop strike to second base to nail the Rangers speedster on a steal attempt.
Later in the frame, Mejia worked a walk, and in the sixth, he swatted an opposite-field single. Through eight games with the Padres, Mejia is hitting .272 with a couple of homers.
"The bat-to-ball skills are very, very impressive," said Padres manager Andy Green. "The arm strength is insane. We're very pleased with what he's done so far."
Franmil Reyes added a pair of hits, but the Padres didn't muster much else on offense. They finished with five hits against a quartet of Rangers pitchers. Texas employed Connor Sadzeck as an "opener," and he put up a zero in the first, before Yohander Mendez tossed five scoreless.
Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin was mostly sharp over 5 1/3 innings. He threw only 72 pitches and induced 12 swinging strikes on his way to six punchouts. It was a much-needed bounceback effort for Erlin, who has been excellent in relief this year, but has struggled as a starter.
"One of his best," Green said. "I thought he was as good as he's been all year from a starting position."

Jurickson Profar put the Rangers on top with an RBI single in the second, and he extended that lead with a towering two-run homer off Phil Maton in the seventh.
For the most part, the Padres' highlights were limited to Mejia, who threw out two runners on the basepaths. He nabbed DeShields in the first, then caught Isiah Kiner-Falefa trying to take an extra base in the fifth.
"I've always had a good arm," Mejia said. "I've always taken pride in my arm. ... I enjoyed that moment."
The Padres were shut out for the 11th time this season, but it was nonetheless an impressive home debut for the No. 21 ranked prospect in baseball (and No. 3 in San Diego's loaded farm system). Mejia joined the Padres in the July trade that sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland, but he wasn't promoted to the big league club until its recent road trip.
"It felt good to be here, to play in front of my home crowd," Mejia said.
Based on the way Padres fans responded to the first caught-stealing of Mejia's career, the feeling was clearly mutual.
Newly promoted left-hander Brad Wieck retired the Rangers in order in the top of the eighth inning. He got DeShields and Elvis Andrus to fly to center and induced a grounder from Shin-Soo Choo.

Wieck was drafted by the Mets in 2014, then dealt to the Padres as the player to be named in the Alex Torres deal. Speaking to reporters moments after his big league debut, Wieck got emotional.
"Nothing can compare to that," said a teary-eyed Wieck. "That's 26 years of waiting for that moment right there. That was unbelievable."
Wieck posted a 2.53 ERA in 44 appearances between Double- and Triple-A this season. The Padres think highly of the 6-foot-9 southpaw -- enough that they added him to the 40-man roster last winter, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. He's off to a nice start.
"I couldn't even tell you how I got those three outs," he said. 
It's been a month since William Myers started his first game at third base. He's still learning the ropes of his new position, and it's showing. Myers airmailed a throw in the fifth inning, allowing Texas' second run to score. It was his fifth error in 24 starts at third.
Ultimately, the Padres turned two on the play. Myers picked Kiner-Falefa's grounder and stepped on third before throwing errantly. Profar scored, but Mejia nabbed Kiner-Falefa trying to advance to third.

Myers' struggles are concerning, to say the least. The Padres envision him as a versatile roster piece who could one day slide seamlessly between third base and the outfield. Defensively, he's a long way from being that piece.
DeShields doubled to open the sixth inning, but he was thrown out at third on an impressive defensive play by Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer charged a Choo grounder and threw to third, where Myers applied a no-look tag. The Rangers challenged the play, arguing that DeShields arrived first, but the call would stand.

Eric Lauer is eyeing a strong finish to an up-and-down rookie campaign. He's been mostly sharp since returning from a forearm strain last month. Lauer takes the ball Saturday night against Texas with first pitch slated for 5:40 p.m. PT. The Rangers counter with left-hander Alex Claudio.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.