Scouting Yankees Prospect #47: Melky Mesa

Melky Mesa is as toolsy as they get

The Yankees signed Melquisedec, aka "Melky", Mesa on July 2nd in 2003 as a 16-year old. While his numbers don't jump off the page, he possesses some of the best tools in the farm system and his ceiling is as high as any other positional prospect in the organization, including Jose Tabata.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Melky Mesa
Position: Right Field
DOB: January 31, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 165
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

After spending two years in the Dominican Summer League, Mesa broke in the United States with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this past season and hit just .207 with three home runs, three stolen bases, and he struck out 45 times in only 145 at-bats, hardly impressive numbers.

"Not that good," Mesa said of his 2006 season through the help of Livio Oleaga translating, "but I'm looking forward to a much, much better year next season. I struck out too many times this past year."

Melky Mesa has a ton of great tools, but he's more of the less publicized 'four-tool' variety, which means he has a hard time making consistent contact at the plate and thus, more of a high-risk/high-reward kind of prospect.

Still learning how to lay off the offspeed pitches on the outside corner of the plate, Mesa says he's working hard on commanding that area of the batter's box.

"Hitting it from center to right field is what I'm focused on doing," he confessed. "I need to make more contact with the ball. I'm trying to get more balance at the plate and look at the ball straight and I'm practicing that a lot to make more contact."

The 19-year old though has plus power potential and the type of speed with his legs that, when he does make contact, can make him one of the more exciting players in the game.

"My arm and my ability to hit for power," Mesa listed as his biggest strengths on a baseball diamond, "and my speed."

Mesa stole just three bases with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this past season and he has just six swipes in his three-year career, one of the more vexing circumstances in the Yankee organization considering he has world-class speed.

"I had never been in that situation, to steal bases," he confessed. "I haven't been needed to do it [steal bases] yet, but it is something I'm comfortable doing if needed."

And while his speed and powerful stroke are very impressive, his defensive abilities in the outfield may be his best tool. He has the speed and instincts to play centerfield, but he also boasts a special arm in the outfield and profiles better as a plus defender in right field.

"I like playing both," Mesa said of centerfield and right field, "but I really, really like playing right field more because I have a strong arm."

Easily boasting one of the best arms in the organization and, despite the low stolen base totals, some of the best speed, Mesa compares favorably to some of the elite prospects in the organization, and some of the best big league players, in both categories.

"The same," he said when asked if he or Josue Calzado have the strongest arm in the organization, "[but] I think Abraham Almonte is faster."

"I'm trying to be patient like Manny Ramirez," he said when asked who he'd compare his game to at the big league level, "I throw as well as Vladmir Guerrero, but a lot of the guys compare me to Mike Cameron."

Like Mike Cameron, unless Mesa learns to shorten his swing and command the outer-half of the plate by taking pitches to the opposite field, he'll never maximize his potential.

"He's got a great arm and he can fly," GCL Yankee Manager Matt Martin said of Mesa. "He's got great bat speed too. All these guys, [Gerardo] Rodriguez, [Josue] Calzado, and Mesa, if they were in the States and going to high school, they'd be really high draft picks."

"Mesa and those guys have great natural ability," Martin continued. "You can't teach an athlete, you know? Hopefully he'll get some at-bats and see what you have. He can really run. I know he didn't steal bases this year and that will be a big focus for him. They are really going to work with him on base running, but he can really fly."














2006 Gulf Coast .207 145 7 3 22 20 3 11 45 .266 .345
2005 DSL .304 23 2 2 6 3 1 3 7 .407 .652
2004 DSL .146 144 5 3 10 13 2 12 67 .279 .243

Batting and Power. Mesa already swings a very powerful bat with really good bat speed. At 19-years old, he has eight home runs in his first 312 career at-bats and scouts believe once he fills out his 6-foot-1 and legitimate 165-pound frame, his power could be really special. But until he learns to make more consistent contact at the plate, and cut down on his strikeouts, he might not ever be the true power hitter he could be. He has 30+ home run potential if he can learn to be a consistent .270 hitter.

Base Running and Speed. While some of his swings can be frustrating at times, the fact he doesn't steal more bases is even more frustrating. Part of the problem is there hasn't been a need for him to steal bases yet, but with his speed, Mesa and the Yankees are going to have to let loose soon. He is easily one of the fastest players in the organization and he has the potential to be right up there with the Brett Gardner's and Justin Christian's of the world in stolen bases.

Defense. As mentioned above, Mesa is a special defensive player. He has the potential to be a Gold Glove caliber center fielder or right fielder in the big leagues someday. But with a cannon for an arm, he profiles better in right field and the comparisons to Vladmir Guerreros' arm are not far off.

Projection. Ceiling-wise right now, there's not much separating Melky Mesa from Austin Jackson and Tim Battle. In fact, Mesa's tools rank a shade better than both. But like Jackson and Battle, Mesa is going to have to learn how to make more contact, cut down on the strikeouts, and learn to take pitches the opposite way. If he can make significant progress in those areas, Mesa projects to be a Mike Cameron type at the big league level someday, albeit with a much better arm. His chances of becoming a big league All-Star are as good as his chances are of capping out in high-A ball, making him a high-risk/high-reward player and the reason for the rather low ranking at the current time.

ETA. 2011. Because of Mesa's propensity to strike out, he probably won't be the type of player that can skip a minor league level in his career, despite the plus tools in other areas. He'll probably need four full minor league seasons before he's ready for 'The Show', putting his ETA at some point in 2011. He is a strong candidate however to begin the 2007 campaign in Charleston next season. Recommended Stories

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