The Milwaukee Brewers continued their flurry of early offseason transactions today, apparently trying to get as much work completed as possible before Mark Attanasio and the rest of MLB’s owners are expected to lockout the players when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. Earlier this afternoon, it was reported that Slingin’ David Stearns has brought in JC Mejia from the Cleveland Guardians:
Brewers trade: They acquired RHP J.C. Mejia from Cleveland for a player to be named or cash.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) November 22, 2021
Jean Carlos Mejia, 25 last August, was signed by Cleveland as an international free agent in late 2013 and began his professional career the following summer in the Dominican Summer League at age 17. He pitched primarily in relief as he climbed the minor league ladder until 2018, when he started 16 games among 18 appearances between both A-ball levels. A hip injury limited Mejia to eight starts in 2019, then he spent 2020 at the Alternate Training Site before starting 2021 in Triple-A. Mejia eventually made it to the big leagues, although his results as a rookie weren’t pretty: 60 hits and 48 earned runs allowed in 17 games (11 starts) and 52.1 innings pitched for an 8.25 ERA. Mejia punched out 47 batters along with 24 walks, pitching to a 1.605 WHIP and unsightly 6.15 FIP. Mejia ranked towards the bottom of all the Statcast metrics, too.
Mejia was at one time well-thought of prospect within Cleveland’s minor league system, ranking as that org’s #17 prospect in 2019 and #30 prospect in 2020. Prior to the pandemic year, BA scouts wrote:
Mejia has a big, 6-foot-4 frame with a chance to develop into a solid starting pitcher. His fastball has been up to 96 mph and sits at 93. He has a good feel for spin and his curveball and slider both have plus potential. He also can generate swings-and-misses with his changeup. He pitches with above-average control. With a big frame and a solid four-pitch arsenal that he can throw for strikes, Mejia offers considerable upside but is also short on experience.
Mejia, who doled out only 2.36 BB/9 from 2014-19 in the minor leagues, misplaced his ability to throw strikes consistently in 2021 on his way to walking 40 batters in 77.2 innings between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2021. He did show better as a reliever this past season, though, yielding just two earned runs (both homers) in 10 innings with 11 strikeouts versus two walks in 10.0 innings across 6 MLB appearances out of the arm barn.
Stearns confirmed that the Brewers will be looking at Mejia as a reliever when camp begins next spring, and he also added that Mejia was granted a fourth minor league option, which means that the Brewers will be able to shuffle him back-and-forth between the minors and majors in 2022 as needed. If he sticks on the roster, the Brewers would have six full years of contractual control over Mejia. The right-hander is currently pitching for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic, and has so far allowed just one earned run in 9.0 innings across seven appearances with 12 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs