Indians recall top prospect Francisco Mejia, will DH vs. Yankees

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Mejia's name keeps popping up in trade rumors. On Saturday, it was in Cleveland's lineup.

The Indians recalled their top prospect from Triple-A Columbus amid speculation about him being part of potential deals before the July 31 trading deadline. Mejia will bat sixth and serve as Cleveland's designated hitter for Saturday's game against the New York Yankees.

A catcher for most of his career, Mejia has been playing some outfield in the minors and it's possible he could be there for the Indians later this season -- as long as they don't ship him anywhere for bullpen help.

For at least for the next two games, the 22-year-old switch-hitter can help with his bat.

To make room for Mejia, the Indians sent starter Shane Bieber to Columbus. The right-hander improved to 5-1 on Friday night with a win over New York. Indians manager Terry Francona said Meija will go back to the minors on Sunday, and he will not play in the All-Star Futures Game in Washington D.C.

With a need for outfielders, the Indians began playing Mejia in right and left field and Francona said the reports have been positive on his progress.

"He views himself as a catcher and he is a catcher," Francona said. "We're trying to explain to him that, We got outfield needs and we think you're a really advanced hitter. If you can play the outfield good enough, you can come and play in the major leagues. Doesn't mean you can't catch at some point.'

"He's been playing more outfield recently, just because of the need. I'll probably get a chance to visit with him here the next couple days, which is good because I think in-person conversations go a lot farther."

Mejia has played 23 games in left field and seven in right. He's learning how to read the ball off the bat, track drives into the gaps and hit the cut-off man.

But Mejia's biggest adjustment has been keeping busy.

"The hardest thing is not getting balls hit to me," he said through a translator. "Like sometimes it feels a little bit boring. Besides that, I'm fine."

The Indians have no doubts about Mejia's hitting ability. He's batting .279 (83- of 297) with 21 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBI in 77 games for the Clippers. In June, he batted .455 with four homers and 23 RBI in 24 games.

This is Mejia's second stint this season with Cleveland, which could be tempted to trade him to find relief help or another outfielder.

Mejia played in 13 games for the Indians, but only batted .154 with one RBI in 13 at-bats.