CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – When the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015, it was the first season for middle infielder Raul Mondesi Jr.
The 20-year old infielder made one plate appearance in 2015, striking out. But his lone plate appearance, his first at the major league level, came in Game Three of the 2015 World Series.
The Cleveland Indians promoted six players when rosters expanded on Friday: pitchers Kyle Crockett, Shawn Morimondo, Dylan Baker and Adam Plutko, catcher Francisco Mejia and outfielder Greg Allen. Baker was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The team also activated outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte, as well as pitcher Josh Tomlin from the 10-day DL. Righty Dan Otero was activated from the paternity list.
While Crockett, Morimondo and Plutko have all made appearances as fill-in arms in 2017, it is Mejia and Allen who could assume that Mondesi role for the Indians, should the space come calling.
Mejia, the Indians’ top prospect following the promotion of Bradley Zimmer in mid-May, has proven at every level that he is an elite hitter. At 21-years old, he has done so while being much younger than his peers at each level.
Manager Terry Francona said Mejia will see playing time in September, and said that it is more about learning than anything. But the youngster could be an asset to the AL Central leaders in October should they finish what they started in the division.
It will be seen as to whether or not Mejia gets any time behind the plate with the Indians, but that is where his learning curve will be noticeable. On a team that has two elite catchers defensively, the rookie may step into the position group as the best hitter of the bunch.
There is no immediate need to have an offensive catcher, as Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez continue to make up for their struggles at the dish by being Gold Glove caliber backstops. But if Mejia shows his mettle offensively in his time with the club, he could serve as a quality emergency-catcher who can pinch hit for anyone.
Again, it is not a matter of need at this point, but Mejia’s hitting ability may make him useful off of the bench if injuries were to arise as they have all year.
Mondesi’s presence on the Royals’ playoff roster was due to his singular value as a pinch runner, something which may make Allen more of a necessity on the post-season roster. The team’s 8th-rated prospect projects as a high-level center fielder and base stealer.
Both of those attributes are covered with Zimmer, but because he may start, the availability of a speedster off the bench is something the Indians would then be lacking.
Ultimately, there will more than likely not be room for either due to the Indians’ platoon situation in the outfield. Between Zimmer, Chisenhall, and Jay Bruce all being susceptible to left-handed pitching, the need for right-handed bats in Austin Jackson and Brandon Guyer become immediately necessary. That doesn’t even factor in the eventual return of Michael Brantley.
Mondesi making his debut in the playoffs was an anomaly, and if fully healthy, the Indians do not have an immediate need for either Mejia or Allen. But if it is singular attributes that Francona is looking for in the playoffs, both could be candidates as depth down the line.
With six outfielders in consideration, there is no way Allen would make the cut over Zimmer, as his main attribute is cancelled out. It would most likely take an injury to Gomes or Perez for Mejia to make an appearance.