When San Francisco Giants pitchers and catchers assemble in the desert today, to begin working out the ruffles in their otherwise smooth ride, Adalberto Mejia will be with them, attempting to assert his position as a viable left-handed starting pitcher. This happens to be a commodity that has served the Giants well in recent seasons, through the efforts of Madison Bumgarner, and the Giants would like to continue that trend.
Mejia debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, making quite the splash in his first thirteen games as an eighteen-year-old pro, going 5-2 and posting a sterling 0.868 WHIP. Here is a quick glimpse at his inaugural season:
5-2/1.42 ERA/13 G/13 GS/76.0 IP/58 H/12 ER/0 HR/ 71 SO/8 BB/0.868 WHIP/8.4 SO/9/0.9 BB/9
Moving on in 2012 to the Augusta GreenJackets, Mejia spent part of the season as a starter (14 G) and the rest as a reliever (16 G), posting the following stats:
10-7/3.97 ERA/30 G/14 GS/106.2 IP/122H/47 ER/4 HR/79 SO/21 BB/1.341 WHIP/6.7 SO/9/ 1.8 BB/9.
In 2013 the Dominican southpaw split his season up into three venues. As the youngest regular starting pitcher in the California League at nineteen, Mejia started sixteen games for the A+ San Jose Giants, posting a 7-4 with a 3.31 ERA and a WHIP of 1.126. He started one game for the Fresno Grizzlies, holding his own in five innings pitched, surrendering two solo home runs, but managing to make a good show of it.
Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants senior vice president and general manager Brian Sabean attends spring training workout at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
In the Arizona Fall League that same season, Mejia appeared in seven games, three as a starter, getting knocked about to the tune of a 1-3 record, with an 8.47 ERA and a WHIP of 1.529.
Into all minor league players’ lives, some rain must fall. For his short stint in the AZFL, Mejia got deluged.
Over the course of the season, his totals looked like this:
8-7/4.13 ERA/24 G/20 GS/109.0 IP/98 H/50 ER/17 HR/33 BB/105 SO/1.202 WHIP 8.7 SO/9/2.7 BB/9.
2014 was a tale of two polar-opposite halves of the same season, fortunately featuring a hideous first half and a redeeming second half.
Pitching for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, Mejia put up a 5.50 ERA in April, May and June, with a-gulp-1.677 WHIP. He flipped matters around during July and August, posting a vastly improved 3.00 ERA and 1.278 WHIP. For the season his numbers looked like this:
7-9/4.67 ERA/22 G/21 GS/108.0/119 H/56 ER/9 HR/31 BB/ 82 SO/1.389 WHIP/6.8 SO/9/2.6 BB/9.
As a lefty, Mejia is a prized commodity, bringing to the table his lanky six-foot, three inch, 195-pound frame, which allows him to throw in an easy, repeatable delivery. He has solid command, with a minor league career 2.1 BB/9, which is something that has drawn the attention of Giants management.
His best pitch is his fastball, which gets up into the mid-nineties, and he also has a sinking change-up and a slider. He keeps his pitches down, but the very thing that works in his favor-control-works against him as he gives up a lot of hits.
With his two secondary pitches working for him, he has a solid repertoire, and his ability to keep his pitches down, works well for inducing double plays. With seven starters already in camp, Mejia will get nothing but a good look this spring, but that could translate into a late-season call-up, should 2015 pan out well for the young southpaw.
Besides, any thoughts Mejia had about possibly starting when spring training disbands, went out the window in November, when MLB announced that Mejia had tested positive for a banned substance, and would begin the 2015 season on the suspended list for fifty games.
It’s a rough patch to have to endure, but certainly not insurmountable. Mejia is young, talented and will get the opportunity to impress Giants coaches this spring in the desert. There was a lot of palaver this winter about how formidable of a pair, Madison Bumgarner and a second lefty would make leading the Giants charge. It’s not likely to happen this season, but 2016?
Everything comes to them who wait, especially old age.