As most of us already know, Salvador Perez is not going to play catcher for the Kansas City Royals forever (I know, I know, Captain Obvious!).
It is likely that Salvador Perez might be in his last year or two behind the plate with the Kansas City Royals, as his body is not going to hold up for much longer. He could surprise us all and make it till 2021 behind the plate, but that would be asking way too much out of a player who has given everything that could ever be given to an organization.
As I stated in a previous article, I believe MJ Melendez to be the next Salvador Perez for the Kansas City Royals. While no one will be able to fully replace the impact Perez has had on our community and the Royals organization, Melendez has the necessary tools to bring stability at catcher for many years to come.
Melendez just capped off his season with the Lexington Legends in the Royals farm system. He is not likely to be ready until around 2021, but he has brought some hope to replace a Royals legend behind home plate. Melendez is only 19 years old and he was a 2nd Round pick for the Royals in 2017.
If we strictly compare Melendez’s numbers from the Lexington Legends website to Salvador Perez’s minor league stats his second full year we find an interesting story. Perez’s measurements can be found at Baseball Reference’s website.
Melendez in 2018 hit for .251/.322/.492 in 111 games, while Perez hit for .361/.409/.482 in only 25 games for two different teams. While in the minor league system, Perez never played in over 99 games in any one season. His measurements will be slightly different from Melendez who has already played in 111 games his first full season. In seven seasons in the minors, Perez hit for .289 in 359 games with 1423 plate appearances.
A recent article by the Bleacher Report displayed the average “slash” for the top 30 catchers in 2018. For 2018, the league average for a catcher was .246/.315/.409, according to Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report. If both Perez and Melendez are compared to this standard in 2018 (which may not be the best indicator), their minor league slashes are much better. Perez’s slash in the minors was .289/.330/.402, while Melendez is at .254/.337/.470 in 158 games for 2017-2018.
Quite honestly, as a fan of the game looking at these stats doesn’t really tell me much about how well Melendez will do in the majors. What it does tell me is that right now Melendez has a comparable bat to Perez and gives me hope that he will continue to improve as he gains more experience. This is quite exciting if you think about other catchers who can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Can Melendez be the next Perez? I would like to think he can be comparable, and it would be interesting to compare Melendez’s catching style to Perez in upcoming weeks to see if he has the natural skills to replace the man behind the Royals’ home plate.