Cincinnati Reds: Getting to Know Keury Mella


When the Cincinnati Reds dealt Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants late Thursday night, they picked up yet another top pitching prospect to add to their stockpile. That pitcher is Keury Mella, a 6-foot-2, 200 pound right-hander who was the Giants top-ranked prospect (per

Mella, who turns 22 on Sunday, was signed by the Giants in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic. He debuted later that year in the Dominican Rookie League, striking out 75 in 69.1 innings with an ERA of 2.47 and a 1.26 WHIP.

That success was repeated the next year by Mella (3-2, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.2 K/9), and it put him firmly on the radar of many around baseball. Before the 2014 season, he was ranked as the Giants’ No. 5 prospect by and No. 13 by Baseball America.

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Mella was promoted to Low-A Augusta to start the 2014 campaign, making 12 starts before he was shut down with a rotator cuff injury. The injury wasn’t considered serious, but Mella was held out for nearly two months to be safe.

He returned to make six starts for short season Salem-Keizer, allowing four earned runs in 19.1 innings. Overall, Mella went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 85.1 innings in 2014.

This season, Mella’s progression has moved right along while pitching in High-A San Jose and he was recently named the Giants No. 1 prospect in’s midseason rankings.

Through 16 starts and 81.2 innings, he’s 5-3 with a 3.31 ERA and 1.13 WHIP to go along with 83 strikeouts. His walk rate has increased to 2.9 per nine innings, but that’s not an overly concerning number. His best start of the season came on July 16, as he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before allowing a solo home run, the only hit he gave up in his seven innings of work.

Mella also played in this year’s Futures Game in Cincinnati, suiting up for the World Team. He didn’t have his greatest game, allowing two runs on two hits while only recording one out.

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While some scouts project Mella as a future late-inning reliever due to his strenuous delivery (which is pretty evident when you see him in game action), the Reds are planning to continue using him as a starter.

Mella might need to work on his delivery to ease the strain on his arm, but his sinking mid-90s fastball and ability to throw strikes leaves plenty to be excited about.

Here’s a more in-depth scouting report of Mella, via his MLB Pipeline profile:

"“Mella overpowers hitters with a lively 93-95 mph fastball that reaches 97. He can ride it by them up in the strike zone or impart it with heavy sink, a big reason he surrendered just one home run in his first two seasons in the United States. He also can miss bats with his power curveball, which can get slurvy at times.His changeup gives Mella a promising third pitch that dives at the plate when at its best. His crossfire delivery makes it tough to pick up his pitches but doesn’t prevent him from filling the strike zone with ease.”"

The 22-year-old will head to High-A Daytona to join a formidable Tortugas staff. With the addition of Mella (ranked as the Reds No. 5 prospect, per, all five members of Daytona’s starting rotation are among the Reds top 20 prospects.

It’s hard not to be excited about the Reds acquisition of Mella. Getting a team’s No. 1 prospect for a mid-rotation, rental pitcher is no small feat. Mella is still two or three years away from making an appearance in Cincinnati, but he has a ton of upside and could become a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Reds in the future if he continues to progress.

Next: Reds deal Mike Leake to Giants