The Royals made three selections Monday as the Major League Baseball draft began in Seacaucus, N.J. The club drafted high school first baseman Nick Pratto of Huntington Beach, Calif., with the 14th overall pick. They took high school catcher M.J. Melendez of Palmetto Bay, Fla., with the 52nd overall pick. They closed the night by drafting left-handed pitcher Evan Steele of Chipola Junior College in Florida with the 73rd overall pick.
Here is a closer look at Melendez, their second-round pick.
The son of Mervyl Melendez, the head baseball coach at Florida International, M.J. Melendez moved from Alabama to south Florida when his father took the job last year. Rated as the 52nd best prospect in the draft, according to Baseball America, Melendez is a left-handed hitting catcher who profiles as an above-average defender.
According to Baseball America’s pre-draft scouting report, Melendez is a “lithe, athletic receiver with quick feet and excellent lateral mobility. He sets a low target. He has plus arm strength behind the plate and can throw accurately with carry from his knees.”
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Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said the club had Melendez ranked as the best high school catcher in the draft. The team’s scouts had developed a relationship with Melendez and his father over the years, he said. They were particularly impressed with Melendez’s performance alongside college players and professionals in workouts at Florida International last winter.
“To see him mix in with the pro players and the college players as a high school player, it was standout tools and strength,” Goldberg said. “I know they said tonight on the TV [broadcast] that his strength would be a big concern, that’s not a concern at all of ours.”