Daily Prospect Profile: Mel Rojas Jr.

Rojas has picked up his hitting since the month of June started.

If there’s one common criticism of the approach the Pittsburgh Pirates have taken in the draft, it’s been that they’ve gone too heavy with pitching prospects, leaving the system thin on hitters.  Yet when the Pirates selected Mel Rojas Jr. in the third round of the 2010 draft, it raised some questions, as top prep pitcher A.J. Cole was still on the board at the time, despite entering the draft as a potential top 20 pick.  Rojas Jr., the son of former Expos closer Mel Rojas, was described as a potential five tool talent who was more on the raw side.

Those raw skills showed when Rojas started his pro career with a .207/.309/.250 line in State College in 2010.  Rojas got off to a good start, but quickly faded down the stretch.  Part of that was due to fatigue from getting adjusted to a longer schedule than Rojas was used to in college.  When I saw him at the end of the year in 2010 his speed and defense looked good, although the bat wasn’t looking as hot.

Rojas moved up to West Virginia this year, where he got off to a slow start.  He hit for a .253 average in April, with a .559 OPS.  In May he wasn’t much better, with a .243 average and a .535 OPS.  However, he’s started to heat up the last two months.  In June, Rojas hit for a .268 average, but saw an increase in his walks and power, with his OPS jumping to .716 for the month.  So far in July, Rojas has been on fire, with a .333 average in 24 at-bats, along with a 1.116 OPS.

I saw Rojas last week while I was in West Virginia.  The defense looked good, with good range and a great arm.  As for the hitting, that continues to be the big question mark.  Rojas chased a few low and away pitches, giving a kind of Ronny Cedeno like leaning swing from the right side of the plate.  From the left side, Rojas looked better, and crushed a home run down the right field line in one of the games I saw.  That power, which has only led to three homers in the actual games, is apparent in batting practice, where Rojas has been known to put on a show.  The key going forward with Rojas is applying that to the games.

Rojas is still very raw at the plate, but the potential is definitely there.  He has an issue of rolling over top of pitches, leading to more grounders and fewer line drives and fly balls.  The good thing is that the Pirates have plenty of time for him to develop.  With Andrew McCutchen in center field, and Starling Marte looking like an option at the AA level, there is plenty of time for Rojas to develop his hitting skills.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Owens Strikes Out 8 In Tribe Loss

Next Story »

Trade Values 101: How the Market Affects Price

  • Nate

    I’m not sure how much power he was projected to have in the first place, so he needs to get the on-base portion of the stats up.  Glad to see he’s finally heating up a bit and hopefully we’ll see these improvements carry through the summer and into next year.

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    17 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles