First Impressions: SP Humberto Mejia

First Impressions: SP Humberto Mejia

Written by: Danny Hacker
Follow him on Twitter: @theGREATdanny94
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The Marlins, against all odds, headed into yesterday’s matchup vs the Mets with a 6-1 record. With more than 15 players out on the IL due to COVID-19, they gave a relatively very unknown pitching prospect named Humberto Mejia the start vs the Mets. The last Marlins pitcher to skip AA and AAA altogether to make their Major League Debut was the late Jose Fernandez (ironically also vs the Mets in New York) and while Mejia is nowhere near the same tier/stratosphere as Fernandez, it still is really awesome company to be a part of for him. The outing was ultimately short lived but Mejia did enough to make an impactful mark moving forward and left me pretty impressed for a 23 year old never seeing anything above A-Ball.

The Line: 2.1, 1ER, 1R, 2H, 6K, 2BB on 67 Pitches
The Pitch Breakdown: 67 Total Pitches (43 Pitches for Strikes, 64.1%)

Pitch:Number/%CSW%Avg VeloMax VeloSpin Rate
4 Seam Fastball42 (63%)29%93.0 mph94.1 mph2,241 RPM
Curveball14 (21%)29%78.7 mph80.4 mph2,389 RPM
Slider8 (12%)13%84.5 mph85.3 mph2,340 RPM
Changeup3 (4%)0%86.6 mph87.2 mph1,750 RPM

High Fastballs galore, that’s how I would sum up Mejia’s outing in three words. His fastball won’t blow the fastball by you in a velocity sense (sits in the low 90s) but it really plays up extremely well due to the deception in his delivery and the vertical movement upwards in the zone with an average spin rate of 2,241 RPM. That was evident right from the get go as he K’d both Nimmo and McNeil on high fastballs that they swung right through. He then got a check swing out of Conforto on yet again another high fastball for the strikeout to end the first (he argued the call quite some afterwards). Of the 4 strikeouts via the Fastball (3 in the first, 1 in the third), all 4 were swung on and missed. However, with all the plus things about it, he also gave up the only run of the outing on a Home Run to Dominic Smith leaving a rising fastball on the heart of the plate with one out in the second inning. Below are Mejia’s three strikeouts in the first inning, all on high fastballs, and a high fastball to McNeil in the 3rd displaying the rise and play it has to fool hitters.

Mejia’s secondary pitches are a Curveball, Slider and Changeup in which his Curveball is by far his best pitch. His Curveball sat in the high 70s all night and even touched 80 with a spin rate of 2,389 RPM. The big thing about the pitch is that of the 14 times Mejia threw his Curveball, none of them were put into play. 5 were swung at and 3 were called strikes (two of which were strike three calls against Gimenez and Rosario seen below). Albet a small sample size but that impressed me having a >50% “Strike Rate” I’ll call it (meaning 8 of 14 were a strike/fouled in some fashion). His Slider sat in the mid 80s all night with a spin rate of 2,340 RPM and was only thrown 8 times. Of the 8 sliders, 5 were swung at, none missed and 4 fouled off. His Changeup was basically non existent thrown only three times however not put into play any of the times and was fouled off the only time it was swung at. It sat in the mid 80s and had a spin rate of 1,750 RPM.

Mejia’s control/command was not terrible at all from a strike throwing perception (He threw 64.1% strikes) which is his reputation in the minors (a MiLB career 2.0 BB/9 in 277.1 IP) but he did walk two batters in his short outing. At times the fastball rose a bit too high and out and as a result racked up some counts that might have not been racked up otherwise leading to the walks. I think that comes from the fact the Mets were foul balling Mejia to death last night (23 of 67 pitches were fouled off, or 34%, vs say Greinke last night only had 8 of 87 pitches fouled off) and he was trying too hard at times to blow the fastball past hitters which caused the command/control to suffer a bit.

Overall, I was disappointed the outing ended up being so short but there was quite a bit I really liked and was impressed by moving forward with Mejia. He has started the majority of his career in the minors with some relief appearances sprinkled throughout and I think starting is where they will have Mejia stay for the time being. If his Slider can become an average third pitch, having two distinct breaking balls along with a really deceptive fastball could play wonders as a starter. However, the main issue with that is something that really has plagued Mejia his whole baseball career so far and that is his lack of durability. He was signed on July 2nd 2013 but didn’t make his stateside debut until 2015 as a result of some shoulder issues and those same issues cost him the entire 2017 season. The potential lack of a durable frame/profile means that he won’t be able to make it long distance in every game as a starter making him a relief option or an opener for 2-3 IP kind of like we saw last night. I would love to think given his preceding reputation as a strike thrower and really good control/command, he could wind up being a back end starter but like I said above, the durability goes a long way so time will only tell. If last night was any indication, there’s some legit power to that fastball/curveball combo no matter what role it is in.

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