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MiLB Report: Is MJ Melendez the Most Improved Player in 2021?

MiLB Report: Is MJ Melendez the Most Improved Player in 2021?

MiLB Report

Kansas City Royals prospect MJ Melendez used time off during the Covid-19 pandemic to rework his swing and it’s been paying off big. Currently leading Double-A with 24 homers, Melendez is making a case for the most-improved player in minor league baseball.

Read about Melendez and four other prospects to watch in this week’s MiLB Report.

Everson Pereira, CF, New York Yankees (International Signee)

Height: 6’0 | Weight: 191 | Age: 20

Season stats: .397/.479/1.194; 4 HR

Last week’s stats: .474/.545/1.335; 1 HR

MLB comparison: Starling Marte

Scouting Report: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45

After signing for $1.5 million in 2017 at the age of 17, Pereira struggled at the plate in his first two pro seasons. Pereira was showing his inexperience as he slashed a .263 BA and .332 OBP with three HRs over his first season in rookie ball. He then followed that season with hamstring and foot injuries. This limited Pereira to only 19 games in the following season at the age of 18. Now in 2021, Pereira has matured and put on muscle. The sky seems to be the limit for yet another young Yankees prospect. 

Cards to Watch: 2020 Bowman Chrome Auto; 2020 Bowman Chrome Base

Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B, Toronto Blue jays (International Signee)

Height: 6’1 | Weight: 188 | Age: 19

Season stats: .291/.378/.979; 18 HR

Last week’s stats: .333/.444/1.397; 3 HR

MLB player comparison: Hanley Ramirez

Scouting Report: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50

The Blue Jays No. 6 prospect was the second-highest paid international signee in 2018 at $3.5 million. Orelvis started off this season slow while only hitting .256 with six HR combined in May and June. Since then — over 21 games in July — Orelvis is hitting a monstrous .372 with 12 HR. Hopefully we see a promotion from A ball to A+ in Martinez’s near future.

Cards to Watch: 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Auto; 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Base

Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles | No. 1 overall pick in 2019

Height: 6’2 | Weight: 220 | Age: 23

Season stats: .281/.408/.927; 15 HR 

Last week’s stats: .333/.438/1.252; 3 HR

MLB player comparison: Johnny Bench

Scouting ReportHit: 60 | Power: 65 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 65

The former first overall pick in 2019 started his pro career less consistent than many had hoped. Rutschman slashed .254/.351 with four HRs in his first pro season. He has quickly quieted the doubters in 2021 as he has showcased his elite plate discipline and ability to get on base. Through 68 games at Double-A Bowie this year, Rutschman has an impressive .408 OBP with 51 walks. 

Cards to Watch: 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Auto; 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Base; 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Sapphire

MJ Melendez, C/DH, Kansas City Royals (No. 52 overall pick in 2017 MLB Draft)

Height: 6’1 | Weight: 190 | Age: 22 Years

Season stats: .290/.371/.990; 24 HR

Last week’s stats: .391/.423/1.380; 4 HR

MLB player comparison: Salvador Perez

Scouting Report: Hit: 40 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45

Melendez is making a case for the most improved minor league baseball player in 2021. In 2019 (over 110 games) Melendez slashed .163/.260/.571. Over the year off in 2020 — due to Covid-19 — Melendez made drastic changes in his swing and it’s showing. He’s currently leading Double-A with 24 home runs and is tied with Griffin Conine for the MiLB lead. 

Cards to Watch: 2017 Bowman Chrome Auto; 2017 Bowman Chrome Base

Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (2014 International Signee)

Height: 6’0 | Weight: 225 | Age: 23

Season stats: .305/.378/1.013; 16 HR

Last week’s stats: .500/.522/1.705; 4 HR

MLB player comparison: Yasmani Grandal

Scouting ReportHit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 35 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

Ruiz is a top-notch offensive tool in the Dodgers’ farm system. He has great bat control and doesn’t have a lot of swing-and-miss in his at-bats. Over Ruiz’s first six seasons, his strikeout rate is an impressive 10% — in 2021 that is unheard of. He seems to have a very high ceiling with his skill set, yet the Dodgers cannot find a way to bring him up. The Dodgers need to either use Ruiz as a massive trade piece or get him some major league at-bats alongside Will Smith. 

Cards to Watch: 2018 Bowman Chrome Auto; 2018 Bowman Chrome Base; 2020 Topps Series 1 Base

Ryan R. covers minor league baseball prospects for Sports Card Investor and writes a weekly MiLB Report column. Follow his other content on his YouTube channel.

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