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Francisco Mejia Opens Eyes At Big League Camp



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Francisco Mejia (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

GOODYEAR, Ariz. —In his first experience at big league camp, catcher Francisco Mejia made the most of his opportunities. He got a lot of hits, and he impressed his bosses.

As expected, the Indians optioned Mejia to Double-A Akron midway through camp, but the 21-year-old switch-hitter took another step forward with his work in camp.

"His time here was really good for him,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He got to work with (catching instructor) Sandy (Alomar Jr.), and he got to catch some of the major league pitchers.

"Though he still has some development to do, he knows his skills can translate to help our big league team.”

Last July it appeared doubtful that Mejia would be in Indians camp in 2017. He was part of an agreed-upon package of prospects Cleveland intended to trade to the Brewers for catcher Jonathan Lucroy—but then Lucroy vetoed the deal.

At the time of the near-trade Mejia was in the middle of what became a 50-game hitting streak that bracketed his time at low Class A Lake County and high Class A Lynchburg. That hitting streak represents the longest since the minor leagues reorganized in 1963.

In 102 games last season, Mejia hit .342/.382/.514 with 11 home runs and 29 doubles. His batting average ranked sixth highest in the minors.

In 11 games this spring Mejia went 8-for-19 (.421) with two homers. He impressed Francona with his makeup and demeanor.

"He wasn’t giving any ground,” Francona said. "We tell our young guys there’s a way to be respectful of veterans, but when the game starts and you get on the field, you don’t back down from anyone.

"This is the way you want to make your living, and if somebody can’t keep up with you, maybe they can’t keep up. He did a good job with that.”

With Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, the Indians are well-fortified at catcher at the big league level, but injuries or trades can happen. Regardless, Mejia’s ETA in the major leagues is growing near.

SMOKE SIGNALS

Righthander Cody Anderson will miss the 2017 season after opting for Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in November but early in camp was diagnosed with a sprained UCL and a mild flexor strain.

A spring injury to second baseman Jason Kipnis allowed third baseman Yandy Diaz to make the team. Regular third baseman Jose Ramirez shifted to second.

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Owen Miller Earns Quick Callup

The 24-year-old's combination of offensive production and versatility make him a perfect fit for a Cleveland club struggling to score runs.

— Jim Ingraham is a columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram/Medina Gazette

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