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When the 2015 season began for Keury Mella was not with the Cincinnati Reds. Instead he was entering his 4th season with the San Francisco Giants organization and was slated to open up his season with the San Jose Giants in the California League. His season got out to a good start as he allowed a run in 4.0 innings with no walks and he struck out seven batters. The rest of the month would be up inconsistent as he would make three more starts, two of which he would struggle in. For the month he would post a 4.58 ERA in 17.2 innings with three walks and 19 strikeouts and allow just one home run.
May didn’t get out to a strong start as he would allow three runs in 5.0 innings, but he would turn things around. He didn’t allow an earned run in his next two starts over a combined 12.2 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts. In his final start of the month he’d have some struggles with control, walking three batters in 3.0 innings, but he’s only allow one run and strike out six. The right hander would post a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings with eight walks and 17 strikeouts.
The control problems carried over into June for Mella as he would walked three batters in each of his first two starts, both lasting 5.1 innings where he would allow a run and strike out a combined 14 batters. He would only make one more start in the month, allowing three runs in 6.0 innings. In 16.2 innings he would post a 2.70 ERA without a home run allowed, seven walks and 18 strikeouts.
After missing the final two weeks of June, the right hander returned to the San Jose rotation and threw three innings on July 1st. He allowed three runs in 3.0 innings with two walks and no strikeouts. The next time out was a step in the right direction as he struck out seven in 5.0 innings with two walks and two earned runs. On July 16th he made perhaps the best start of the season, allowing just one hit – a solo home run, without a walk in 7.0 innings to go along with five strikeouts. He would make two more starts for the Giants in July, allowing six earned in 11.2 innings with four walks and 17 strikeouts. On July 31st he would be traded to the Reds in the Mike Leake deal. The up-and-down month saw him post a 4.05 ERA in 26.2 innings with eight walks and 29 strikeouts. After not allowing a home run since April, he gave up four long balls in July.
After joining the Reds organization he was sent to Daytona to join the Tortugas rotation. He would struggle with his control in each of his four starts in the Florida State League, walking four batters in three of his starts and three in another. His first start was solid, allowing just one run in 5.0 innings, but his next two starts saw him allow six earned in 9.1 innings with seven walks. He would cap off his season with 7.0 shutout innings on August 25th, but did walk four batters. In August his ERA was a shiny 2.95 over the course of 21.1 innings, but he walked 15 batters to go along with 23 strikeouts.
His season came to an early end as he would miss the final week of the season and the playoffs due to shoulder stiffness.
Fastball | His fastball worked in the 93-95 MPH range most of the year, but was at 94-96 MPH when I saw him the first week of August when he was in Daytona. The pitch has good action on both planes.
Curveball | The curve works in the upper 70’s and is an average offering most of the time, but will occasionally flash as above-average. It can get a bit loopy at times, but usually has good 11-5 action.
Change Up | Some scouts think the pitch is better than the curveball, but Mella doesn’t throw it often. It’s inconsistent, but shows flashes of being an above-average pitch in the mid 80’s.
Keury Mella certainly has the pitches to be a quality starting pitcher, but there are some concerns about his mechanics. He throws with effort and has had two different shoulder issues pop up in his career, though neither has led to long term problems. He currently struggles to repeat his mechanics, though he has improved over the past few years in that department. His control needs to improve with all three of his pitches, likely something that is related to his inconsistent mechanics. If he has make the move to the bullpen, his fastball should play up quite well. Look for him to remain in the rotation for now, but without improvements in his control he could wind up as a power reliever who can pitch late in games.