Height/Weight: 6’0, 205 lbs
Acquired: NDFA (4/4/07)
Born: 10/11/89 (Tabara Arriba, Azua, DR)
2011 Rank: #1
Why Ranked Here: Mejia made just five starts before he was diagnosed with a torn ulner collateral ligament and headed in for Tommy John Surgery in May. It was clear from video of his starts leading up to the diagnosis that his elbow was bothering him for at least his final two starts for triple-A Buffalo. The picture at right is a screengrab from his second-to-last start of Mejia looking down at his elbow.
Although Mejia is now throwing, do not expect him back in competitive games at triple-A until May, or so. The recovery period from Tommy John surgery is generally described as 11-18 months, but it has been my observation that younger pitchers seem to take a little longer (see also: Steven Matz. This is not backed up by a full study, but could be construed as a research challenge.)
Here’s what I wrote a year ago.
“Mejia’s arsenal starts with a special plus cut fastball that sits in the mid 90s. Mejia complements the cutter with a more conventional, straighter four-seamer, and a two-seam fastball a few miles per hours slower with a little sink. Commanding his fastball arsenal with precision would probably be enough for Mejia to survive and even thrive in a relief role. His hard changeup which sinks almost like a splitter is his second pitch. His hard-curveball is his third [pitch]. Ever since I first saw him in Brooklyn he’s struggled to find a consistent release point on his breaking ball….
Mejia still must improve his command with all of his pitches to be fully big league ready.”
Lets follow up on that last line. Note too that elbow injuries often manifest themselves first through a loss of command. Even so, the comment is important. His K/BB ratio in Buffalo last year was just 1.5 in five starts last year. He walked 12.4% of the batters he faced. Again, if he doesn’t learn to improve his command, his future will be out of the bullpen.
Also from last year:
Coaches have been raving about Mejia’s work ethic and intelligence for years now. That hasn’t stopped.
2011: TJ. That stinks.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A very fine MLB starter.
Debbie Downer Says: A useful bullpen piece.
Projected 2012 Start: AAA Buffalo DL. Then eventually Buffalo itself
MLB Arrival: 2010. He could well be back in the big leagues by mid-late summer.