MJ MELENDEZ KANSAS CITY #9
MJ Melendez | Rank: 9 (Preseason: 3)
Team: Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)ETA: 2021Position: CAge: 20 DOB: 11/29/1998Bats: L Throws: RHeight: 6′ 1″ Weight: 185 lb.Drafted: 2017, 2nd (52) – KCWatchScouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Melendez headed into the 2017 Draft ranked as the No. 72 prospect by MLB Pipeline. In a class that lacked catching prospects, Melendez stood out, and the Royals took him No. 52 overall and gave him a bonus north of $2 million, well above pick value, to sign him away from playing for his father, Mervyl, the coach at Florida International. If his first full season of pro ball is any indication, it will be money well spent, as Melendez finished third in the system in RBIs and fourth in homers, all while learning the nuances of catching.
The left-handed-hitting backstop has some serious raw power to tap into, with bat speed and loft that will allow him to continue to show over-the-fence pop. There is too much swing and miss to Melendez’s game, with a strikeout rate of more than 30 percent heading into 2019, and he’ll have to continue to refine his approach at the plate to keep reaching his power as he advances. Melendez is very athletic, running better than most catchers, and uses that agility behind the plate. He is an excellent blocker and already shows an ability to work with pitchers to call a good game. His plus arm allowed him to throw out nearly 42 percent of potential base stealers in 2018.
Developing high school catching is often a crapshoot, but Melendez, thanks to his all-around skills and having grown up around the game, has a chance to buck the trend, though he’ll have to erase a rough 2019 season. Luckily there’s time as he played all season at age 20.