After some wild speculation back and forth with the folks at Let’s Go Tribe
last night, I began to cook up a theory about why top Tribe prospect Francisco Mejia
hasn’t been called up to play the outfield yet: Perhaps the Indians want potential trade partners to be able to scout him as a catcher, and there’s no room for him to play catcher consistently at the MLB level with Yan Gomes
and Roberto Perez
on the roster.
Make no mistake, Mejia’s twice as valuable to any franchise playing as a catcher compared to playing as an outfielder, and thanks to the contracts of the two aforementioned backstops, he’s blocked at his natural position for at least the next three years. So in order for him to achieve his full value to the Indians, the club must either 1) trade Mejia for a worthwhile return, or 2) trade Gomes or Perez for whatever they can get. In the latter scenario, Mejia still becomes a backup catcher and doesn’t get to play full time, meaning the Tribe still isn’t reaping the full benefits of his talent and potential. The Indians really are in a tough spot, and the more I think about it, the less likely it feels that Mejia will open 2019 playing in a Cleveland uniform.
Here are four more Indians-related updates you deserve to know…
- Carlos Carrasco comes back today! He’s been on the DL since June 17th, but with his return the Tribe’s rotation is once again at full strength. The right-hander owns a 4.24 ERA on the season so far, though performance estimators like FIP (3.42), xFIP (3.47) and SIERA (3.47) believe he’s been a better pitcher than that ERA would suggest. Hopefully he gets some better fortune in the second half; he can start by beating Paul Blackburn and the Athletics tonight.
- Minor-league outfielder Connor Marabell has been killing it in Double-A this season. He’s got a .295/.347/.465 batting line across 295 plate appearances to go along with eight homers and four steals. He drove in four last night in the Rubberducks’ victory. I smell a promotion coming soon. Entering the season, Marabell did not rank among the Tribe’s top 30 prospects, per MLB.com.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports interviewed Trevor Bauer for yesterday’s podcast. The whole thing is fascinating, and listening to Bauer talk about pitching is like listening to Sondheim talk about music. Among the highlights: A breakdown of the physics of Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, the balance pitchers strike between maximizing velocity and minimizing ligament stress, “some pitchers in MLB are cheating,” and Bauer describes himself as a top four pitcher in the American League (and believes he’ll pitch until he’s 45).
- In case you missed it, the Indians managed to sign their top two picks in this year’s draft: Catcher Noah Naylor and right-hander Ethan Hankins. They also agreed to terms with three of the top 50 2018-2019 international prospects in recent days, per Baseball America. The Tribe spent close to 80% of their $5,504,500 international bonus pool to add Venezuelan shortstop Gabriel Rodriguez (ranked the 8th-best international prospect for the current signing period), Dominican shortstop Junior Sanquintin (21st), and Dominican shortstop Angel Martinez (39th) to the farm system.