At some point this year, Francisco Mejia is expected to become a mainstay in the Cleveland Indians lineup.
But not yet.
The Indians announced on Monday that they have optioned Mejia to Triple-A Columbus, where the organization's top prospect will begin his 2018 season. The 22-year-old spent the bulk of 2017 in Double-A Akron, before a late-season call-up to Cleveland last September.
In 19 at-bats in Spring Training this year, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound switch-hitter batted for a .421 average to go along with 2 home runs, 7 runs batted in and 5 runs scored. Although he currently ranks as the top catcher prospect in baseball, Cleveland has experimented with Mejia playing different positions in hopes of finding him a home in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
"Offensively, he's so advanced," Francona said of Mejia in Goodyear, Ariz., where the Indians hold Spring Training. "If something happens in April, May or June, he's probably our best minor league hitter. If he's able to play another position, does that speed up his ascent to the major leagues?"
Francona, however, noted that given that he had yet to even play in Triple-A, the prospect of Mejia beginning in Columbus was not only possible, but probable. That news is now confirmed, although it likely won't be long until Mejia is once wearing an Indians uniform.
"He's ready to be in the big leagues," Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor told WKYC. "And he's going to help us win."
Also optioned to Columbus on Monday were Abe Almonte, Julian Merryweather, Shawn Morimando and Adam Plutko. Bobby Bradley, Louis Head, Josh Martin and Adam Wilk were reassigned to Minor League camp.