KANSAS CITY -- The Royals took who they believe to be "the best catcher in the Draft" when they selected MJ Melendez at No. 52 overall on Monday night.Melendez, a high school player from Westminster Christian School (Fla.), is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. Melendez has been lauded for his ability behind
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals took who they believe to be "the best catcher in the Draft" when they selected MJ Melendez at No. 52 overall on Monday night.
Melendez, a high school player from Westminster Christian School (Fla.), is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. Melendez has been lauded for his ability behind the plate, but according to MLBPipeline.com: "There are some issues with his swing, causing some swings and misses." However, the Royals believe in his abilities.
"Any time you can get a left-hander that has power and has the athleticism, and the arm strength, that he has at the spot we did in the Draft, we were doing pretty well," Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said.
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• Royals' 14th overall pick: Nick Pratto
• Royals' 73rd overall pick: Evan Steele
The Royals took high school players with their first two picks -- selecting first baseman Nick Pratto in the first round at No. 14 overall. They followed the Melendez selection with college left-hander Evan Steele No. 73 overall.
Goldberg said the Royals have known Melendez and his family for the past three years. In that time, Goldberg has watched the catcher work out with professional and collegiate players, and he was impressed. MLBPipeline.com ranked him as the No. 72 prospect in the Draft.
"To see him mix in with the pro players and the college players as a high schooler, it was standout tools and strength," Goldberg said. "I know they said tonight on TV that his strength would be a big concern, but that's not a concern of ours at all."
Melendez will have to decide between attending college or becoming a professional. But his decision is a little more complicated: His father, Mervyl Melendez, is the head coach at Florida International University, where his son has committed to play collegiate baseball. Though Goldberg said the Royals took that into consideration, they are confident they can sign the young catcher.
"Our area scouts and our guys fully believe MJ wants to go out and play," Goldberg said. "We wouldn't have made the selection if we didn't think that would be the case. But obviously getting the opportunity to play for your dad is appealing.
"We don't see any hesitation in getting something done."
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.