Melendez exceeded all expectations in his first full pro season, slashing .251/.322/.492 as a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League. His mix of intangibles and two-way upside at a premium position makes him the Royals’ top prospect in our eyes, and we see him as one of the better catching prospects in baseball.
Melendez is a natural behind the plate, able to lead a defense and take charge of a pitching staff with a maturity rare for a player his age. He’s a quiet receiver with a very flexible lower half, able to set low targets and stay mobile. His plus arm is a factor in games and he isn’t afraid to use it, frequently throwing behind runners and able to finish plays from his knees. Offensively, the lefty-swinger has impressive raw power for his age and build, projecting to grow into more as he fills out an athletic frame. As a 30-percent strikeout rate would indicate, he’s still too aggressive at the plate and swings himself into bad counts.
Melendez might always get to his power at the expense of strikeouts, but the chance to finish a plus defensive catcher with 20+ home run power gives Melendez star potential. His makeup makes us think he’ll be a big leaguer for a long time.