Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 72 prospect heading into the 2017 Draft, Melendez stood out in a class that featured a dearth of catching prospects. The Royals took him in the second round (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. After a promising first full season at Class A Lexington in which Melendez performed well behind the plate and finished among the system leaders with 73 RBIs (third) and 19 home runs (fourth), he struggled mightily and posted one of the Minors’ worst slash lines (.163/.260/.311) as a 20-year-old at Class A Advanced Wilmington in 2019.
The left-handed-hitting backstop has some serious raw power, with bat speed and loft that could translate to average game power if he can learn to make contact. Melendez has fanned at 33.8 percent clip in the Minors and had a 39.4 percent strikeout rate -- with an alarming 24.4 percent swinging-strike rate -- in the Carolina League. At the root of Melendez’s swing-and-miss issues is a big leg kick that causes him to over-rotate with his upper half and keeps him from being on time with his swing. The Royals like the leg kick and therefore have worked with the youngster to improve his posture in the box. The early returns have been encouraging, with Melendez showing better direction in his swing along with an improved contact point.
Melendez could be a monster if he can figure it out at the plate because the defensive tools and skills are already there. An impressive athlete who’s agile behind the plate, he is a good blocker and already knows how to call a game and manage a staff. A combination of plus arm strength and excellent catch-and-throw skills help Melendez stymie the running game, and he threw out 60 percent of basestealers in 2019, bringing his career mark to 43 percent.
Scouting 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.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
In a 2017 Draft thin in catching prospects, Melendez stood out with his defensive brilliance and flashes of power. The Royals made him the second backstop taken, selecting him 52nd overall and paying him a well over-slot $2,097,500 to give up a commitment to Florida International, where his father Mervyl is head coach. He lived up to his reputation during his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Melendez has more athleticism than most catchers, and it's obvious in all phases of his defensive game. He's a quality receiver who moves quickly to block balls in the dirt, and his footwork enhances his plus arm. Because he grew up around the game, he's a more advanced game-caller than most teenagers.
Melendez creates solid raw power with the bat speed and loft in his left-handed swing. His stroke can get too long and uphill, however, leading to a 30 percent strikeout rate in his first taste of pro ball and questions about how consistently he'll produce at the plate. He has close to average speed now, but figures to slow down as he gets bigger and endures the rigors of catching.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
The son of college coach Mervyl Melendez, Melendez moved from the Saint James School (Montgomery, Ala.) to the Westminster Christian School (Miami) for his senior year after his dad changed jobs from Alabama State to Florida International. His defensive ability stood out in a 2017 Draft light on catchers, earning him a well over-slot $2,097,500 bonus as a second-round pick.
Melendez is quicker and more athletic than most catchers, and it shows. He gets the most out of his plus arm thanks to his fast footwork and release, and he's also a quality receiver who moves well behind the plate. His leadership and game-calling skills are also more advanced than most high school backstops.
Melendez' power stands out more than his hitting ability at this point, though he has the potential to contribute in both areas. He has a quick left-handed stroke and shows some aptitude for making adjustments and using the whole field. He has close to average speed but figures to lose a step as he matures physically.