Adalberto Mejia’s back-foot slider resembles that of a certain “Bum”
It’s important to have a strong, ominous presence on the mound. Check. It’s important to not walk opposing hitters. Check. It’s important to throw a sharp, biting back-foot slider like Madison Bumgarner? Well, maybe it’s not all that vital, but, yeah. Check.
Adalberto Mejia filled all those specific check-mark boxes on Tuesday night, shutting down Oakland’s Class-A affiliate, the Stockton Ports, for the first four innings. Despite a brief lapse in the fifth, where the big lefty surrendered his only two runs of the game, Mejia dominated, striking out eight Ports in those first four frames.
Mejia featured three pitches, two in particular, that aided him in striking out two Stockton hitters in each of the first four innings. He blew 91 mph with some occasional sink by the first batter of the game for his first punchout, but mixed in his slider and changeup for the next seven whiffs to fall just one strikeout short of his season-high.
His most impressive pitch was certainly the slider, which he threw at the back foot of right-handed batters to get strike three on three of his eight strikeouts. But, note the changeups (at the 0:34 and 1:20 marks in the video below). Remarkable downward sink and good arm action.
He didn’t give in to three-ball counts, either, fighting back on two specific occasions (a 3-0 and a 3-1 count) to record outs and only managing to allow one free pass.
The two-run fifth inning against Mejia sparked when Oakland’s No.1 prospect Addison Russell tripled into the right-center field gap with one out. He scored on a Bobby Crocker single before Crocker was plated by Tony Thompson’s double.
In 14 starts in 2013, Mejia has allowed more than two earned runs just five times, and only twice in his last seven. His one walk allowed on Tuesday night is characteristic of his first three seasons as a professional. Dating back to his pro debut in 2011 with the Dominican Summer League, Mejia has walked 51 hitters in a total of 261 innings pitched. That’s an average of about one walk per five innings.
San Jose’s offense exploded for seven runs after Mejia’s departure, including Mac Williamson‘s 21st home run of the season. Williamson had a productive night at the plate, adding to his three-run homer by not striking out and drawing two walks. Williamson’s one achilles heel in a breakout 2013 year has been the high strikeout total, so any day the big 6’5″ right-fielder can stay away from the punchout with two walks, it’s a good day.
Mejia will be sure to join Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Ty Blach in Richmond in 2014 promotions, so get to Municipal Stadium while you still can and catch a glimpse of this future San Francisco arm.