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When are the Indians going to call up Francisco Mejia?

By PAUL HOYNES • Jul 1, 2018 at 5:30 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. — Francisco Mejia is finally hitting at Class AAA Columbus in a manner befitting his billing as the Indians' top prospect.

Fans want to know when the switch-hitting catcher will be joining the Indians to replace struggling catcher Roberto Perez. Manager Terry Francona was asked that question before his offense pulled another no-show in a 7-2 loss to the A's at Oakland Coliseum.

"We signed Roberto to a four-year contract," said Francona. "It's not just your batting average. I mean we'd like all our guys to be hitting .300, that would be great. But you're talking about running a staff. Doing all the things that Roberto has taken the time to learn."

Perez is hitting .141 (13-for-92) with one homer and six RBI. In the last couple of years, he's pushed Yan Gomes for playing time, but this year Gomes has re-established himself as the No.1 catcher.

Mejia, meanwhile, is pounding the ball at Columbus after a slow start. Mejia, in his first year at Triple-A, hit .187 (17-for-91) in April and .192 (14-for-73) in May. In June, he hit .467 (43-for-92) with four homers and 23 RBI.

In his last nine games, Mejia has had two or more hits in each game. He had seven hits in his last two games through Friday.

"I'm thrilled the kid is doing what he's doing," said Francona. "We all feel that this kid is going to help us. You've also got a young kid. You don't want him to come up and sit the bench. That's not developing."

The Indians promoted Mejia for one day when they Perez got hit by a pitch against the Tigers on June 10. Perez didn't have to go on the disabled list, but the Indians were trying to be careful.

Francona said there was another reason for his promotion, not matter how brief it was.

"We called him up for that one day because he wasn't doing very well," said Francona. "We thought that might give him a shot in the arm and he took off. So maybe that helped."

The Indians have tried to make Mejia more versatile so they can get his bat to the big leagues even though he's blocked by Gomes and Perez behind the plate. They sent him to the Arizona Fall League after last season to learn to play third, but that didn't go well. This year he's made 20 starts in the outfield - 19 in left and one in right - while making 35 starts at catcher.

"He's not ready (to play the outfield in the big leagues)," said Francona. "I think there was talk about trying to play him some more. Maybe with next year being an option. You know when they go into the winter you can at least have that be an option."

But Francona said that when you cut to the chase, Mejia wants to catch.

"I understand that," said Francona. "We're trying to tell him, 'Hey, we think you're a good catcher, but if you can do this, you might get to the big leagues quicker. Until a kid is sold on it. ... I'm not sure (if it's a good idea to push him)."

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