KC Royals: 3 top prospects are primed for the majors

(Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, MJ Melendez
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MJ Melendez’s power could put him in line for his KC Royals debut in 2022.

Although Bobby Witt Jr. is Kansas City’s top prospect, MJ Melendez is one minor leaguer who made major strides this season.

Melendez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 KC prospect, had a disappointing 2019 season—.163/.260/.311 with a .571 OPS at High-A Wilmington. But he quickly turned things around when he started 2021 at Northwest Arkansas, where he slashed .285/.372/.628 with a .999 OPS in 79 games. He soon joined Witt at Omaha, where he continued his upward trend by hitting .293 with a 1.033 OPS.

Combined, Melendez slashed .288/.386/.625 with a stellar 1.011 OPS, 103 RBIs and 75 walks.

And he led all the minor leagues with 41 home runs, a feat for which he received the John Bauman Award, an honor former Royals Mike Moustakas and Craig Brazell also won.

Melendez also made Baseball America’s minor league All-Star team.

Primarily a catcher, Melendez recorded a .984 fielding percentage and caught 22 runners stealing to give him a 31% caught stealing percentage across both Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.

Being in Salvador Perez’s line of succession means Melendez needs to continue trending upward if he wants to make his KC Royals debut in 2022. If he keeps putting up great numbers, the club could fit him in to split time with Perez, or even at designated hitter for his pop alone.