Ivan Melendez was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ second-round pick in 2022. Melendez earned his nickname, the Hispanic Titanic, because of his large frame and massive power output. In his second and final college season, Melendez smacked 32 home runs for the Texas Longhorns, the 14th most ever hit in a D1 college season. 2023 was Melendez’s first full minor league season, so how did the corner infielder fare?
Melendez split the year between High-A and Double-A, where he hit .272/.345/.578 with a .400 wOBA, and 139 wRC+. Melendez continued to hit for power at the pro-ball level. He hit 30 home runs while posting a .306 isolated slugging percentage. Melendez was one of the most potent hitters in the minor leagues. He had the 6th highest isolated slugging (among batters with 300+ plate appearances) and was one of 15 players in the minors who launched 30+ homers.
Melendez also hit well at Double-A, a level where you start to see the separation between minor leaguers and top prospects. He still had a .891 OPS, .385 wOBA, and 129 wRC+ for Amarillo. This was a step down from the .945 OPS, .411 wOBA, and 148 wRC+ he had at High-A Hillsboro, but it was impressive nonetheless.
However, there was a worrisome side of Melendez’s game that could affect his bat long term. He struck out 34.3% of the time and only walked at a 7.3% pace. Melendez’s walk rate went from 8.2% in High-A to just 5.9% in Double-A. Meanwhile, his K% rose from 33.6% to 35.3%. His 0.21 walk-to-strikeout ratio was one of the lowest rates in the minor leagues.
Melendez played both infield corners but handled the hot corner more frequently than first base. Melendez has no trouble making plays at third base and has an arm that could feasibly stick at third base, but his range is a question mark. That means that first base, a position he played for over 300 innings last year, could be an alternative option. But I don’t see the D-Backs moving him off of third base permanently until someone forces him off the position or he proves he doesn’t belong there.
Melendez has a lot of power potential. An isolated slugging percentage over .300 in the minors is nothing to scoff at. It has only been accomplished 48 times since 2021, the first minor league season after COVID canceled the ‘20 minor league campaign. Melendez very much could be in play for the third base job sometime next season unless the Diamondbacks sign or acquire another player. There is a question as to if his strikeouts will impede his power potential, but if he can mitigate those issues next year and build upon an overall quality season at the plate, Melendez has the potential of a future middle-of-the-order bat.