Melky Mesa, Center Fielder
|Rk (2 seasons)||89||328||298||47||66||17||4||6||35||8||6||20||100||.221||.280||.366||.646|
|A (1 season)||133||564||497||76||112||24||7||20||74||18||6||51||168||.225||.309||.423||.731|
|A- (1 season)||46||128||122||19||27||5||2||7||23||4||1||4||38||.221||.252||.467||.719|
|A+ (1 season)||121||507||446||81||116||21||9||19||74||31||9||44||129||.260||.338||.475||.813|
Melky Mesa has been around the Yankee system for a long time, but has mostly remained an afterthought. Scouts can’t get over how great his athletic tools are – he’s fast, can throw a bullet from the outfield, and hits moonshots in batting practice. But he’s never really been able to put it all together. At least not until 2010. He strikes out, a lot. He plays a gold glove center field. And he’s getting old.
So why rate him #21? To me, its all about Melky’s ceiling. Melky is a super-athletic guy who took a long time to figure out how to play baseball. He finally brought his batting average up to respectable levels, continued to hit for power, and most importantly dramatically improved his K rate. He did it in a pitcher’s league.
I think that Melky Mesa could continue to improve. He’s shown no signs of plateauing his K rate improvements. His LD% depressed to 13% last year, which leaves room for improvement. His .320 BABIP wasn’t particularly inflated. He hits for power, takes a decent number of walks, and strikes out a lot. For a center fielder, those are relatively elite skills.
Think about Curtis Granderson’s performance this year. He’s hit a relatively pedestrian .249/.326/.467 while fielding an UZR/150 of 13.1. While disappointing and a bit overpaid, Granderson has been the 3rd most valuable center fielder in the AL. Mesa is capable of being a poor man’s Curtis Granderson – potentially with even better defense; better than Granderson. The real lesson is that great defenders at a premium position can have a lot of flaws on the hitting side and still be good major league players.
Now, I’m not 100% sold on Mesa. This year could easily have been a fluke. He’s a bit old. But to quote Mark Newman, “He doesn’t have any equals when it comes to [speed and power]” He’s got some really nice athletic tools. Even if he doesn’t continue to progress, he could become a 4th outfielder. Or he could flame out and strike out 200 times next season in Trenton. We’ll see. He’s a dice roll, but with nice rewards if we get a bit lucky.