Meloan, who was dealt to the Indians with Class A Advanced Inland Empire catcher Carlos Santana, will join former University of Arizona teammates Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe — who was promoted on July 25 from Double-A Akron — in Buffalo.
The Cleveland farmhands were college teammates for three years, helping put the Wildcats back on the map by keying Arizona’s 2004 run to the College World Series and providing the backbone of a club that ranked in the top 10 of the nation much of their junior year of 2005. All there players were top-five-round picks in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Meloan has said he’s still “best friends” with many of his former teammates and has even shared a place in Oro Valley, Ariz., just north of Tucson, Ariz., with Brown and Padres catcher Nick Hundley, another former classmate, while working out at their old school in the offseason.
Meloan, a strikeout pitcher who Baseball America ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 8 prospect at the beginning of the season, has gone 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA this year as a starter. Last season he was much more effective as a reliever, the role the Indians have in store for him, going 7-2 with a 2.03 ERA and 20 saves while splitting time between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas.
That earned him a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in September in which he struggled, giving up runs in four of five appearances while compiling an 11.05 ERA by yielding nine runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
He has not sniffed the Majors this year although Clayton Kershaw, Cory Wade and Ramon Troncoso have all made their Major League debuts, and even journeymen pitchers Brian Falkenborg and Jason Johnson have gotten calls.
“John Meloan in some ways with the advancement of Wade and Troncoso and with [Double-A pitcher and former first-round pick] Scotty Elbert healthy and throwing well, he’s been bypassed by a couple guys who are up here right now,” said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.
The more important player to the deal is likely Santana, who led all Minor Leaguers with 96 RBIs at the time of the deal. He also was hitting .323 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 10 more walks than strikeouts.
Organizational depth at the position, particularly 25-year-old All-Star catcher Russell Martin at the Major League level, made him expendable.
“Santana’s a very good hitter,” Colletti said. “Whether he stays at catcher, that’s Cleveland’s call. [Double-A catcher] Lucas May is a step ahead of him. With Russell here I thought we had just a touch of depth there where we could do that, and in our mind there might be a position change down the road for [Santana].”
— Michael Schwartz