Kansas City Royals: Pay Attention to Infielder Erick Mejia
The Royals acquired Erick Mejia in a trade this offseason that sent Scott Alexander to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Packaged with fellow teammate Trevor Oaks, Mejia might have looked like a piece that could contribute later. But perhaps he is forcing himself into the picture sooner, rather than later.
Erick Mejia is doing what he can to stand out. He has had a very impressive Spring Training thus far. Over his 17 games, he has hit an impressive .385/.429/.654 and has a 1.061 OPS. His speed has helped him collect five extra-base hits, three being doubles and two being triples.
Defensively he has not done too bad either. In 15 total games where he has played defense, 11 have been at second base and four at shortstop. While playing second base he has logged 43.0 innings and has a 1.000 fielding percent. At shortstop he has logged 19.0 innings and has a .900 fielding percentage, committing just one error. Over his 62.0 innings played this spring, he has only committed one error. Not too bad.
By The Numbers
If the 23-year-old, switch-hitting infielder continues playing like he has, the Royals will be forced to find a spot for him. However, what he has done so far in Spring Training is no fluke.
When you look at how he has done the last five years, he has been pretty consistent throughout the minor league levels. Last year was the first time he had consistent playing time at a higher level than Low-A or Advanced-A ball, making his way to Double-A Tulsa with the Dodgers.
While there he posted a .289/.357/.413 slash, collecting 27 extra-base hits over 102 games. He logged 33 games at third base (.936 fld%), 22 games at second base (.955 fld%), and 46 games at shortstop (.933 fld%).
Offensively, he does not have a lot of power, hitting just 12 home runs the last two years. However, he does have 39 doubles and 16 triples over the same amount of time. He also has 52 stolen bases on 71 attempts (73% success) the last two years, which show that he has some speed.
Defensively, he needs to get more consistent. In 2017 while in Double-A he had 21 errors over his 102 games,11 errors coming while he played shortstop. That is about one error every five games.
The Royals under Dayton Moore have always been a defensive-minded team. Therefore, if Mejia can get his defense fine-tuned while staying consistent offensively, he could be a great addition to the big league team.
Where Does Erick Mejia Fit?
Seeing as how he has more games played at shortstop than any other position, that does cause a problem. As of right now, the future of the shortstop position belongs to either Adalberto Mondesi or Nicky Lopez. If the Royals keep Whit Merrifield, then it would seem logical to think that second base is locked up as well. That leaves him with one spot left.
Third base might be the perfect landing spot for Mejia. Although it is the one spot he has the least amount of experience at, it is also the ideal landing spot. Which means one thing. This is most likely the last year fan favorite Mike Moustakas would be in Kansas City.
The Royals signed Moustakas to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with a 2019 $15 million mutual option this offseason. Unless he becomes a first baseman or a designated hitter, it does not seem ideal to keep him around long-term.
I believe Moustakas signed in Kansas City knowing if he has a solid first half that he most likely will be traded in July to a contender. If he is not traded in July, the odds of both sides agreeing to pick up the $15 million option in 2019 is unlikely. Regardless of being traded or not, this might be the last year he is in Kansas City. This would open the door for Mejia to take his place at third base.
I think the Mejia could be the future third baseman for the Royals. As long as he continues having offensive success in Double-A and Triple-A this year, look for him to potentially make a push to be on the 25-man roster in 2019. Realistically though, he will most likely make the jump in 2020.
As the year is going on, pay attention to what he is doing in Northwest Arkansas or Omaha. Neither level has an adequate third baseman, and even though Mejia is listed as a shortstop for the Storm Chasers he can make the move to third base.
If the Royals do trade Moustakas, depending on how you feel about Cheslor Cuthbert or Ramon Torres, and how Mejia does this year, he could make the jump in September when the Royals expand the roster.
So what do you think? Do you think Erick Mejia could be the next third baseman for the Royals? Do you think he could be a starter anytime soon? Let us know below!