The Royals concluded the first night of the draft by selecting catcher M.J. Melendez in the second round, the 52nd overall pick. Melendez attends Westminster Christian School in the suburbs of Miami, moving there from Montgomery, Alabama after his father Mervyl was named head coach of the Florida International University baseball program. Melendez is a left-handed hitting catcher with power, one of the top catchers available in this draft.
Melendez stands at 6’1’’ but sets up with a low target, according to Baseball America. He has quick feet and a strong arm, sometimes throwing to second from his knees. John Sickels at Minor League Ball wrote:
Unusually athletic and quick for a catcher, Melendez stands out for his defense. He has a 60-grade arm, a quick release, and the general athleticism more commonly associated with shortstops than backstops.
Melendez has good power for a prep hitter, but may need to develop his hit tool as his swing is a bit open and he does not hit for contact consistently. Baseball America ranked him the 52nd best prospect, writing:
He has a bit of a high hand set with some length to his swing. Melendez uses a leg kick to get his lower half started and has quick hands; when he connects with a pitch he's able to drive the ball with authority, and he projects to hit for some power at the pro level. He ditches his leg kick in two-strike counts and focuses more on making contact.
Keith Law of ESPN ranked him 60th. As a coach’s son, Melendez should be a pretty smart player, and his bilingual tongue should help. The 18-year old Melendez is committed to play for his father at FIU.
With their competitive balance pick after the second round, the Royals selected left-handed pitcher Evan Steele with the #73 overall pick. Steele transferred to Chipola Junior College in Florida from Vanderbilt, where he pitched just 11 2/3 innings for the Commodores in 2016, striking out 14 with an ERA of 4.63. This year, the 6’5’’ lefty suffered a setback with a blood clot that kept him out of action, but he returned with little problem, striking out 58 in 40 1⁄3 innings with a 2.01 ERA for the NJCAA national champion Chipola Indians.
Steele has a fastball in the low-90s, throwing from a low three-quarters arm delivery, according to Baseball America, who ranked him the #90 prospect overall. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him #87, noting that his junior college team recently had him go 140 pitches in a game.
When healthy he’s 90-91 with an average or better curveball, but cuts himself off in his delivery and comes across his body as a result.
He has a sweeping breaking ball and an average changeup. He will turn 21 this November. Steele hails from Marietta, Georgia and his father Greg played college football at North Carolina State.