Image credit: Mark Mathias (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Facing a 40-man roster crunch, the Indians traded Triple-A second baseman Mark Mathias to the Brewers on Wednesday in exchange for Rookie-level catcher Andres Melendez.
Mathias, the Indians’ third-round pick in 2015, had to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. With limited available roster spots and many players needing protection, the Indians opted to trade Mathias to Milwaukee for a low-level minor leaguer than possibly leave him unprotected and lose him for nothing in the Rule 5 draft.
Mark Mathias, 2B
Mathias has been beset by shoulder injuries in his career—they caused him to miss most of 2015 in college and 2017 as a pro—but he’s performed when healthy. He spent all of 2019 at Triple-A Columbus and hit .269/.355/.442 with 12 home runs, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases. Mathias is a patient, disciplined hitter who controls the barrel and drives the ball into the gaps. He has below-average power but makes solid contact and has hit 25-plus doubles in every full season he’s played. Mathias is primarily a second baseman, but his average arm and speed give him a chance to be a utility infielder. The Brewers immediately added Mathias to their 40-man roster, putting him in position to make his major league debut in 2020.
Andres Melendez, C
Melendez just missed making the Arizona League Top 20 Prospects list as a potentially elite defensive catcher. He drew raves from AZL scouts for his ability to catch and handle a pitching staff, especially for someone who just turned 18 before the start of the season. His game management skills are advanced, and he shows good feel for the game. His plus-plus arm is substantiated up by the 30 percent of runners that he threw out. Melendez has plenty of work to do to get his bat to a point where he’s not regarded as just a catch-and-throw backstop, but he’s flashed enough bat speed and shown batting practice power. Melendez’s defense will carry him through the minors, but if his bat develops then he may have a major league future ahead of him.
Bill Mitchell contributed to this report.