Is Keury Mella The Best Arm In The San Francisco Giants System?
Keury Mella entered 2014 as a prospect with helium, but a June injury put the breaks on a successful season with the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League. Behind a big fastball, the San Francisco Giants prospect posted a 2.79 FIP in full season baseball with strong strikeout (8.55/9) and walk (1.76/9) rates. Upon returning from injury, the organization had the right-handed pitcher rehab and finish out the season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes where he dominated. Entering 2015, will Mella’s stuff translate to a successful California League stint and cement him as a top prospect in the Giants system?
Listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Mella presents as an inch or two shorter and a few pounds heavier in person. Soft through the hips and mid-section, a strong workout regimen will help take pressure off of his arm and elbow. Current velocity is generated by a max effort delivery which will need to be toned down if Mella is to remain a starter long term. Additionally, an “inverted W” delivery compounds the problem and his delivery presents as messy from a side angle. Keury Mella leaves plenty to dream on, but he’s already 21 and lacks polish.
Mella’s best pitch is a 92-96 mph fastball with tail when kept down in the zone. A short strider in his delivery, the Dominican born pitcher leaves the fastball up too often. When left at the letters, the pitch flattens out considerably and screams, “hit me!” A longer stride can help keep the ball down and take pressure off of his electric arm.
Against the Rome Braves, Keury Mella was touched up for five runs (three earned) and seven hits in six innings of work. In striking out three and walking one, Mella presented with control, but not command. Far too often, fastballs were left over the plate. The result was plenty of strikes, along with barrel contact from opposing hitters. From the fifth inning on, his velocity dipped and he sat 92 instead of the 94-96 mph velocity scouted early on. Yes, Mella was able to touch 95 on big pitches late in the start, but it didn’t have the same effect as early in the game.
Keury Mella’s primary breaking pitch was a 78-79 mph curveball which lacked feel. Throughout the start, the right-hander had a tendency to both drop the elbow and wrap his wrist. This left the impression Mella pushed curveballs to home plate instead of snapping them off. Because of this, the pitches did more spinning than breaking across the plate. It’s a pitch in need of considerable refinement to profile as a fringe average MLB offering.
It’s possible Mella also dabbled with an 85-mph slider in the start, but it was rarely used.
To the surprise of scouts in attendance, Mella’s change-up was advanced. At 82-85 mph, the pitch featured late drop, inducing weak contact and its share of ground balls. And with a 10-mph velocity difference from the fastball, it’s an excellent change of pace offering. Keury Mella also displayed the ability to throw the pitch for strikes and keep it down in the zone. Plus, his arm action was nearly identical to the heater.
In believing feel for the change-up is a strong indicator of a pitcher’s ability to develop other secondary offerings, it’s possible Mella develops into a quality starting pitcher at the MLB level. Having ranked 33rd in my top-50 fantasy baseball prospects scouted in 2014, the raw stuff is offset by concerns about his future role. Admittedly, the path of least resistance for Mella is for him to become a power reliever. And until he develops a breaking pitch, it’s difficult to project him anywhere else.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 3/4 Starter / Power Bullpen Arm Fastball 60 70 Curveball 30 40 Slider NEI NEI Change-up 45 60 Control 50 60 Command 35 45
Owning Keury Mella
Power arms like Mella are great pieces to own in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues. While San Francisco Giants fans hope the right-hander becomes a dominant starter (highly unlikely), fantasy owners can rest easy knowing the prospect still has great value if Mella never reaches his ceiling and settles in as a closer at the MLB level. And at a time when mid-level fantasy starters are a dime-a-dozen, a ninth inning option is more valuable than a scenario where he becomes a fantasy 3/4 starter. With pitchers, it pays to bet on high ceilings and Keury Mella is no exception.
21 Oct 2014 / Mike Newman /
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