Top catching prospect Francisco Mejia bats for the Cleveland Indians

Francisco Mejia bats on the back fields during spring training with the Cleveland Indians (Photo: Joseph Coblitz\Burning River Baseball)

The San Diego Padres have made a bold move this morning, trading two-time All-Star Brad Hand and RHP Adam Cimber to the Cleveland Indians, in exchange for catcher Francisco Mejia. The deal was first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic.

What San Diego Gave Up

In April of 2016, LHP Brad Hand was claimed off of waivers from the Marlins, which seemed like a rather insignificant acquisition. Hand was a failed starter with the Marlins but he blossomed into a star in the San Diego bullpen.

Hand was fantastic in 2016, pitching to a 2.92 ERA in 82 games (89.1 innings) out of the San Diego bullpen. After another fantastic season in 2017, the team signed Hand to a 3-year extension, which guaranteed him $19.75 million over the lifetime of the deal, with a $10 million option in the fourth year (2021).

Hand has served as the closer for San Diego this year but he figures to slide into a middle relief role for Cleveland, who has one of the worst bullpens in baseball.

The Padres also sent rookie RHP Adam Cimber to Cleveland in the deal. The 27-year-old Cimber was drafted by the Padres in the ninth round (268th overall) by the club in 2013. The sidewinding righty made the team out of the spring and has been a very important cog in the Padres’ bullpen.

Despite throwing a fastball that averages 87 mph per FanGraphs, Cimber has a 3.17 ERA in 48.1 innings in 2018. His FIP is actually 2.38, which shows that Cimber has been a little unlucky this season. He has also been worth 1.1 WAR this season and will give the Indians another reliever who can eat multiple innings.

What the Padres got

This was a two-for-one trade, as the only player coming to San Diego is catcher Francisco Mejia. Mejia, 22, is regarded as arguably the best catching prospect in baseball. Mejia is ranked #15 on MLB Pipelines’ Top-100 list and probably slots right behind Fernando Tatis Jr. in the San Diego system.

Mejia has been an offensive force behind the plate in his professional career and after a slow start, the catcher was hitting .279/.328/.426 with seven homers in 79 games with Triple-A Columbus.

The Indians have attempted to play Mejia in the outfield, in an attempt to get his bat in the lineup. The Padres have a crowded outfield currently and they also have incumbent Austin Hedges currently starting behind the plate. It remains to be seen how and where Mejia fits in currently but San Diego continues to add talent to a deep and talented farm system.

Posted by Kevin Charity

Kevin Charity has written for MadFriars since 2015 and has had work featured on Fox Sports San Diego. He is a lifelong San Diego native and is looking forward to seeing the current wave of prospects thrive in San Diego.


  1. I’ll be honest I’m not sure I really like this one…I’ve never been sold on this guy and think his #15 ranking is too high. I have major concerns about Mejia’s receiving and throwing skills and his numbers this year in AAA are not good, giving me pause. Is it really safe to project his big league success when in comparison Hedges absolutely raked at that age in AAA? We know how Hedges looks offensively in SD. Incredibly small sample size, but Mejia has looked over matched in his at-bats with Cleveland. I love that he doesn’t strike out a lot but he’s also never been an on-base guy either. His best year was 2016 when he had that insane hitting streak. My concern is we already have an offense first catcher in Austin Allen who has made monumental strides defensively and has comparable numbers offensively across the board in his career. I’m weary of it. You don’t give away top flight catching prospects who have already made their debut if you don’t see major holes, especially for two relief pitchers. I understand you can never have enough catching depth, but, is he a starting catcher on a winning team? Does his offensive ability make up for his lack of defense and is it a wide enough gap to push Hedges to a platoon, who’s defense and ability to handle the staff is other worldly? I look at this as a chance to flip him in a package for another bat. In Preller and his scouting department I trust, but this one doesn’t make any sense to me. Can you help me out here, what am I missing? Do the Indians know something every body else is missing? Please advise.


  2. Hopefully, Mejia becomes our 3B of the future/present. Go Pads!


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