Ernesto Mejia, who has spent eight years in the minor leagues with the Atlanta Braves' organization, has been added to the team's 40-man roster and will have a chance to earn a backup first baseman's job with the Braves this spring, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In the last two seasons with the Double-A Mississippi Braves and the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, Mejia has hit .296 with 50 home runs and 191 RBIs. In his winter league games in Venezuela, he had hit .329 with a .565 slugging percentage before Tuesday. He was also leading his league in home runs with 10 and tied for second in RBIs with 29, earning him a spot in the Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela winter league all-star game.
Braves GM Frank Wren has acknowledged that Mejia has developed into a consistent hitter while down in the minors. Placing him on the 40-man roster protects him from this week's Rule 5 draft:
"That's why we felt compelled to put him on the roster, because he just keeps progressing as a hitter....He's really turned into a pretty feared hitter. In Triple-A he was really impressive, and now he's repeated it down [in winter ball]."