Mejia stays hot with four-hit game

Top Indians prospect accomplishes feat for eighth time in career

Francisco Mejia has raised his batting average 98 points this month with Triple-A Columbus. (Cathryn Wood/Columbus Clippers)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | June 30, 2018 12:19 AM

Francisco Mejia will be sad to see June end. 

The Indians' top prospect continued his torrid month with a 4-for-5 showing Friday, doubling, driving in two runs and scoring twice in Triple-A Columbus' 10-6 win over Indianapolis at Huntington Park. 

"He has a natural ability to hit. He has great hand-eye coordination," Columbus hitting coach Johnny Narron said. "Once we get him on time, he does the rest. He's done a great job over the last month being on time, being able to get that good pitch recognition and being able to get his 'A swing' off."


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Mejia grounded into a double play in the first inning, but the 22-year-old slugger wouldn't be kept off the bases again. 

He led off the fourth with a single off Indians starter and No. 26 Pirates prospect Brandon Waddell and scored on Adam Rosales' grand slam three batters later. That ignited a seven-run frame for the Clippers, and Mejia came to bat again with two outs. This time, he smacked a two-run double to center field, ending Waddell's night. 

Video: Clippers' Mejia drills two-run double to center

Leading off the sixth, the native of the Dominican Republic pulled a single to right. Two innings later, he singled for the third time and scored on Brandon Barnes' double. 

Narron says he emphasizes being on time with Mejia. That, of course, refers to his timing at the plate and not him actually showing up to the ballpark in a timely manner. 

"A lot of people reference being on time, or good timing, if they see the swing sequence match the velocity of the pitch just thrown," the hitting coach said. "They say, 'Well, he was on time. He had good timing.' But the way we approach being on time here with Cleveland is to make sure that their hands are set, their feet are set, they're in that good, strong launch position. The baseball is still out of over the grass, approximately halfway or a little bit closer than halfway from the pitcher. So they get good pitch recognition, they're in a launch position that they could accelerate and get their swing off in the appropriate time in a manner that's going to help them hit it, both the fastball and the offspeed pitches." 

It was the seventh consecutive multi-hit game for Mejia and ninth in 10 contests. On Thursday, he went 3-for-3 with a homer, double and walk against Indianapolis. Since a brief promotion to the Majors on June 11 -- he did not play for Cleveland -- the switch-hitting catcher has hit in 15 of 16 games.

MLB.com's No. 16 overall prospect entered this month hitting .198; four weeks later, he sports a .287 batting average with seven homers and 38 RBIs. Friday was Mejia's eighth career four-hit game and first in 2018. 

The work before and after games to nail down his timing has put Mejia in a position to succeed. 

"Francisco's spent a lot of time in those drills," Narron said. "He understands how to be on time for the fastball and how to hold that firing position if it's an offspeed pitch." 

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Mejia has four homers, 12 doubles and 21 RBIs in June, with a .457/.480/.713 slash line to back up those numbers. 

Columbus' Greg Allen was perfect at the plate in his first professional five-hit game. All five knocks were singles, three of them infield hits. He also stole a base. Narron gave plenty of credit to Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo for cobbling together a program and routine for Allen in Spring Training. 

"It's all encompassing for Greg," Narron said. "He's working on being on time. He's working on accelerating the bat head through the zone, working on using a lot of his lower-half, as far as syncing his lower half to the upper half. He's worked very hard at it. He's applied it to the games." 

Allen has spent six weeks in the Majors this, which Narron says helped him tremendously and allowed him to keep working with Van Burkleo.

"The thing for me, is he's having good at-bats," Narron said. "He goes up there with a plan and an approach. Again, he's applying the information and it's transferring to the game." 

Video: Allen lines fifth hit for Columbus

Rosales added a solo shot in the fifth for the Clippers. 

Pirates No. 22 prospect Jordan Luplow clubbed a two-run homer, while Jerrick Suiter hit a solo shot and finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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