LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ernesto Mejia led the International League in RBIs the past two years, and he has hit at least 24 home runs in each of the three seasons he has played since rejoining the Braves organization, but as the 6-foot-5, 260-pound first baseman progresses through Spring Training, he is still patiently awaiting his first call to the Major League level.
Freddie Freeman's presence obviously lessens the odds Mejia will reach the Majors while a member of the Braves organization. But Mejia has maintained optimism and a good attitude as he prepares to play a third consecutive season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Mejia's lack of mobility makes him a liability on the bases and limits his range in the field. But if he continues to show the power he has the past few years, there is a chance he will become attractive to another big league organization or, possibly, a Japanese club.
"Freddie is a great player, as everybody knows. I just try to do my best," Mejia said. "I understand there is not too much playing time for me here. I'm just trying to do the best I can and let them decide."
Mejia recorded five hits, including two doubles, in his first nine Grapefruit League at-bats this year, but he has gone hitless in his past six.
The big Venezuelan was named the International League's Rookie of the Year in 2012 after hitting .296 with 24 home runs and a .852 OPS. While spending a second straight season with Gwinnett in 2013, he batted .249 with a career-best 28 homers and an .820 OPS.
Although he was anticipating a September promotion last season, he understood the club's decision not to bring him to Atlanta after rosters expanded.
"It's tough when you have a good year at Triple-A and you're trying to make your dream come true," he said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.