WATCH: MJ Melendez homers in his spring training return
By Jacob Milham
KC Royals catcher MJ Melendez may have made his MLB debut after shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., but there is no denying the Florida native's importance to the Royals. Fans missed him appearing in spring training after Melendez joined Team Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic. His team had an unexpected early exit, but that brought him back to the Royals camp even sooner. Melendez wasted no time in reintroducing himself to Cactus League opponents, with a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs on March 21.
KC Royals catcher MJ Melendez returned to spring training with a bang, blasting a two-run homer against the Chicago Cubs.
That home run, which scored Kyle Isbel from second, accounted for the Royals only runs Tuesday evening. The Royals lost to the Cubs, 6-2, with Chicago's starting pitcher Jameson Taillon pitching five innings, with only four hits and nine strikeouts.
The Royals have hit quite a rough patch, losing eight of their last ten games. Their 16 wins still lead all MLB teams in spring training, but the Royals look less dominant as Opening Day approaches. Hopefully, the returns of Melendez and other WBC participants will improve the Royals heading into the Opening Day matchup against AL Central foe, the Minnesota Twins.
Melendez made his MLB debut on May 2, 2022, against the St. Louis Cardinals, and he had a historic season that followed. He led all rookies in walks, with 66 in 2022. He also ranked in the top 10 for home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits, and total bases among rookies in 2022. Melendez impressed in his 129 games in 2022 and looks to take another step forward in 2023. MLB.com recently predicted Melendez will be one of the most improved players in the 2023 season, and a strong spring training at the plate fuels optimism even more.