Mejía with the New York Mets in 2014
|New York Mets|
October 11, 1989 |
Azua, Dominican Republic
|April 7, 2010, for the New York Mets|
|Earned run average||3.83|
Jenrry Manuel Mejía (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxenri meˈxi.a]; born October 11, 1989) is a Dominican professional baseball pitcher. He signed with the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB) as an international free agent on April 4, 2007. He made his MLB debut in 2010 and was named the Mets' closer in May 2014.
Mejía was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2015 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED). He received his second suspension in July 2015 after a second failed test. He tested positive for a third time, which was reported February 12, 2016, resulting in his permanent ban from MLB.
Mejía was born in Azua in the southwestern Dominican Republic. Growing up, Mejía lived with his parents and younger brother in a neighborhood called Herrera, near Santo Domingo's former airport of the same name. Starting at age 11, he made his living by shining shoes, earning about 300 pesos a day. He did not play baseball until he was 15 years old, only becoming interested in the sport once he realized that players were able to earn a large signing bonus. He drew some interest from several teams, including the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, but was not seen at that time as a top talent because he was small and slight of build. He ultimately signed with the Mets for $16,500 in 2007, at the age of 17.
In 2007, Mejía played for the DSL Mets. He recorded a 2–3 record with a 2.47 ERA 14 games (7 starts). The next year Mejía pitched for the GCL Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones. His combined statistics were a 5–2 record, with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts.
Mejía started the 2009 season pitching for the Single-A St. Lucie Mets. He was 4–1 with a 1.97 ERA. Then, he and Bradley Holt were both promoted to Double-A Binghamton. There he posted a 0–5 record with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts. He also missed seven weeks with a strained middle finger on his pitching hand. Mejía had a 4–6 record with a 3.14 ERA in 19 total starts. Because of his success in the 2009 season, he was named the 48th best prospect in the major leagues in the MLB.com Midseason Top 50 Prospect list. After the 2009 season, the Mets assigned him to the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 12.56 ERA in six starts. In February 2010, Mejía was ranked as the 56th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.
New York Mets
Mejía made the Mets 2010 opening day roster as a relief pitcher, making him the youngest Met to make an opening day roster since Dwight Gooden. He made his major league debut on April 7, 2010. After posting a 2.60 ERA in 30 relief appearances, on June 20, 2010 Mejía was sent back down to Double-A Binghamton to become a starter, with Bobby Parnell taking his spot in the Mets bullpen. Mejía was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on September 1. On September 4, Mejía made his first major league start for the Mets at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Mike Nickeas, who caught Mejía, also made his debut in the majors on the same day.
After starting five games for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, on April 29, 2011, Mejía left the game after four innings due to elbow discomfort. He was diagnosed a few days later with a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and required Tommy John surgery. Mejía missed the entire 2012 season due to recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Mejía began the 2013 season on the 60-day disabled list. He was activated on July 26, 2013, and started the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. He pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up 7 hits, striking out 7, and walking none en route to his first win of the season.
In 2014, Mejía won the Mets' fifth starter role out of Spring Training beating out Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan. Mejía's first start and win came on April 4 at Citi Field against the Cincinnati Reds in which he went 6 innings striking out 8 and allowing 4 hits, 1 run, and 5 walks. After struggling in seven starts, Mejía was moved into the bullpen on May 12. The Mets began using Mejía as the closer, after the release of former closers Kyle Farnsworth and José Valverde. On May 25, Mejía played a key role in a double header against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the first game, Mejía gave up a run off a fielder's choice to Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings in the top of the 9th inning. The Mets would go on to lose the first game 2–1. However, in the second game, Mejía again pitched the 9th inning, this time earning his 3rd save of the season in a 4–2 Mets victory. Mejía earned 28 saves in 31 chances on the season. As closer, Mejia was known for a distinctive stomp to celebrate completing a save.
On Opening Day, Mejía was warming up for a 9th inning save, but injured his elbow. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day with elbow inflammation, retroactive to April 5. On April 11, it was announced that Mejía had been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for use of stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug (PED). Despite returning to the Mets in July, Mejía was replaced as closer by Jeurys Familia. On July 28, 2015, Major League Baseball announced that Mejía had been suspended for 162 games after failing a test for stanozolol and Boldenone.
2016: Indefinite ban from league
On January 25, 2016, the Mets re-signed Mejía to a one-year deal for $2.47 million, avoiding arbitration. However, due to his 162-game suspension, he would have only received a portion of that salary, since he would have had to sit out the first 99 games of the season. On February 12, MLB announced that Mejía had tested positive for Boldenone. He was the second player to have three positive tests, after Neifi Pérez. As this was his third positive test for anabolic steroids, he was automatically banned from MLB for life. He became the first person to be banned for life due to multiple PED use offenses. He was also one of only two living people to be permanently banned, the other being Pete Rose in 1990. Mejía claimed that he only failed one test, and that MLB pressured him to reveal where he obtained the PEDs after the second positive test, which he considered to be inaccurate. He further claimed that MLB conspired to engineer the third positive test.
Mejía was eligible to petition Commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement after one year. However, he was required to sit out a minimum of two years, meaning that he would not be eligible to pitch again until 2018 at the earliest. At the time, he remained under the Mets' control until the end of his contract, when the club had the option to non-tender him. The Mets and Mejía did agree to a contract for the 2017 season despite the fact that Mejía will not be eligible to play and will not receive any salary in 2017.
Mejía throws a total of five pitches. His primary pitch is a natural cut fastball, created by his three-quarters arm angle. As a prospect, his fastball averaged 94 to 96 miles per hour. Following Tommy John surgery, Mejía's fastball movement was reduced due to a change in arm angle, but was later restored. Mejía also throws a curveball, slider, changeup, and sinker. He retained the use of all five pitches even as a reliever.
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