Royals announced the signings of two players to minor l..."/> Royals announced the signings of two players to minor l..."/>

Royals Sign Two Players to Minor League Contracts


Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals announced the signings of two players to minor league contracts on Saturday evening. Infielder Jason Donald and outfielder Melky Mesa will be members of the Royals’ organization in 2014.

Donald was once a top prospect in the Phillies organization, and Baseball America tabbed him as the 69th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2009 season. In the 2008 season, there were rumors that the Royals were close to sending reliever Ron Mahay to Philadelphia in exchange for Donald, but nothing ever transpired. Eventually, Donald was shipped off in a trade, along with other prospects, except the Phillies received a slightly better player in return: Cliff Lee. Donald debuted with the Indians in 2010, and after a pair of solid seasons, he struggled mightily in 2012, walking in just 3.7% of his plate appearances while striking out nearly 30% of the time. Following that season, Donald was sent to Cincinnati in the Shin-Soo Choo trade, and once again Donald performed poorly, this time exclusively at AAA, hitting just .219/.268/.319 in 271 plate appearances. Injuries have seemingly always been a problem for Donald, but the 29 year old middle infielder may at least be able to provide some depth in Omaha.

Mesa has spent his entire 8 year career in the Yankees organization after he signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2003. He’ll be turning 27 next month, and Mesa has only accumulated 16 plate appearances at the major league level, but in 2,811 minor league plate appearances, he has a line of .246/.313/.438. While a .751 OPS in the minors isn’t anything to get excited about, it is important to note that Mesa has posted an above average wRC+ in every season since 2008. Mesa doesn’t have great plate discipline, with a walk rate around 7.3% and a strikeout rate over 28%, but he does have quite a bit of power. His .191 career ISO is very impressive, and he was even better in 2012, a season in which Mesa hit 23 home runs across two levels, and put up an .805 OPS with a .216 ISO. In addition to power, Mesa also has some speed, with 115 steals in the minors and a success rate of almost 74%. Defensively, he’s spent most of his time in center field, but Mesa does have experience at all three outfield spots, so his versatility could be valuable for the Storm Chasers in 2014.

Neither player is likely to have any kind of impact for the Royals next season, but I’m still looking forward to watching both guys play in Omaha. I’ve kept tabs on Donald’s career from a distance ever since he popped up on the radar in 2008, and he has had success at AAA as recently as 2012. Plus, Mesa’s power should be a lot of fun to see in hitter-friendly Werner Park.