The Miami Marlins protected Humberto Mejia from the rule 5 draft.
Perhaps it’s a measure of how much the Miami Marlins are expecting from Humberto Mejia in that they protected him from the December rule 5 draft. By putting Mejia on the 40-man roster, they guaranteed he would have at least another year in the Marlins system to hone his craft.
Ranked 29th in the Miami Marlins system at the time of the rule 5 draft, Mejia is now ranked 23rd according to the MLB Pipeline. A six-foot-three, 175 lb. right-handed hitting and throwing pitcher from Panama City, Panama, he walked two and struck out two in an inning of work this spring with the parent club. He’s since been reassigned to the Jupiter Hammerheads, in the High-A Florida State League.
Mejia joined the Miami Marlins system after signing through the club’s international free agency program in 2013. Due to shoulder issues, he didn’t make his professional debut for the DSL Marlins until two years later. In 13 starts for the 2015 campaign, he was 3-3 with a 1.69 ERA and 71 K’s and a 0.964 WHIP in 74 2/3 innings. He also walked only 14 batters during that time.
In 2016, between the GCL Marlins and the Batavia Muckdogs in the Short-season-A New York-Penn League, Mejia was 4-5 with a 2.90 ERA with 49 whiffs in 49 2/3 innings. He also posted a career-worst 1.168 WHIP, then missed the 2017 season with a recurrence of his prior shoulder issue. According to MLB Pipeline:
"Mejia’s best offering is an upper-70s curveball that features plenty of depth and has overmatched right-handed hitters at the lower levels. It plays well off his four-seam fastball, which parks at 90-93 mph and reaches 95 with riding action up in the strike zone. He also shows some feel for a changeup that should become an average third pitch."
Back with Batavia again in 2018, Mejia had a 3.30 ERA and struck out 59 batters in 62 2/3 innings, walking only 14 for a 1.101 WHIP for the Muckdogs. He started a level up in 2019 with the Clinton LumberKings in the Midwest League, where he was 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 13 games, including 10 starts. He struck out another 68 batters in 66 2/3 innings, holding the opposition to a 0.915 WHIP.
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The latter half of the 2019 campaign would see Mejia join the Hammerheads for the first time, and go 0-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. He posted a 0.845 WHIP during that time.
Although he had never appeared above the short-season-A level until last year, the Marlins are enamored enough of Mejia’s ceiling that they decided not to leave him exposed in last season’s rule five.
Mejia will doubtless start with the Sharks in 2020, but is a more-than-even bet to join the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Double-A Southern League before the year is out. Mejia’s on pace to make his major league debut for the Miami Marlins in 2022.