The expectation for 2016 for Keury Mella was for him to start the year in Double-A Pensacola. After all, he had plenty of success in Advanced-A in the previous year for the Giants and somewhat for the Reds after coming over via trade in late July. Instead, the organization sent him back to Daytona where he finished the previous season.
His first start didn’t go well for the Tortugas. Mella allowed four runs in 3.1 innings on three walks and four strikeouts and he hit a batter. The next time out things went much better as he allowed a run in 5.2 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. On the 19th he returned and allowed one earned in 5.2 innings with three walks and five strikeouts. On the 24th against the Yankees he struggled with control, walking five batters in 4.2 innings with two walks, but he allowed a home run for the third time in four starts. The right hander capped off the month with a 6.0 inning, 1-run start where he walked three and had five more strikeouts. It was an interesting month in total as he posted a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings, which sounds good, but it also came along with 30 hits allowed and 15 walks to go with 20 strikeouts.
After a so-so, inconsistent April, things started out well in May for Keury Mella. He allowed two runs in 6.0 innings with just two walks. He followed that up with what was arguably the best start of the year as he allowed two runs over 8.0 innings without a single walk and he struck out eight batters. The good run continued over the next two starts as he allowed two earned runs in 13.0 innings with just three walks and 12 strikeouts. The final start of the month saw him allow two earned runs in 5.2 innings, but he walked two batters without a strikeout. The month was a big improvement from April, posting a 2.20 ERA in 32.2 innings with just seven walks and 25 strikeouts.
June saw Keury Mella make his first start of the month on the 9th, 15 days after his last start. He struggled in that start, allowing four earned in 4.1 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. The next time out it went a little better, but he lasted just 4.0 innings with two earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts. On the 21st he allowed three runs in 6.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. His last start of the month he lasted just 4.1 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. It was a tough month as he posted a 5.30 ERA in 18.2 innings with eight walks and just 12 strikeouts.
Things got out to a tough start for Keury Mella in July, sort of. In his first two starts he allowed just two earned runs over 11.0 innings, but he walked and struck out eight batters. On the 13th he allowed four runs in 5.0 innings with two walks and a strikeout, but rebounded well the next time out with just one run allowed, one walk and five strikeouts. The final two starts of the month, though, were steps backwards. He was charged with 11 earned runs in 9.0 innings with more walks, eight, than strikeouts, seven. Like June, July was a struggle for Mella as he posted a 5.23 ERA in 31.0 innings with 19 walks and 21 strikeouts.
August began with a two earned run effort over 6.0 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. The next time out he allowed two more earned runs in 6.0 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. On the 17th he ran into rain after just one inning. He returned to the mound three days later and allowed four runs in 5.0 innings on two walks and four strikeouts. In his final start of August he allowed three runs in 6.0 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. That wasn’t the final start of the year though, he was promoted to Triple-A Louisville for a spot start on September 5th. He performed well, allowing just one run on a solo homer in 7.0 innings with a walk and six strikeouts. In the final five weeks of the season he posted a 3.48 ERA in 31.0 innings with just eight walks and 23 strikeouts.
The season was a bit of a step backwards for Keury Mella. In 2015 his numbers in a much more hitter friendly league were vastly better. His control seemed to take a rather large step in the wrong direction, as did his strikeout rate. His ERA with Daytona, 3.90, was a bit higher than the league average of 3.58. He battled inconsistency throughout the year, with May and August/September standing out as quality months, but he saw struggles in April, June and July.
For all 2017 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one per weekday over the offseason).
Keury Mella Scouting Report
Fastball | The pitch works in the 92-95 MPH range and at times works a tad higher and touched the upper 90’s. It shows movement on two planes with solid sink and armside run.
Curveball | An above-average offering that works in the upper 70’s to low 80’s when it’s at its best, though it can still be an average offering that lacks the crispness it shows at the top of its scale. It shows 11-5 breaking action.
Change Up | A clear third pitch in terms of his usage, it’s a slightly above-average pitch when it’s at its best, but is more often merely average. The pitch works in the low-to-mid 80’s.
While the numbers went backwards in 2016 despite repeating the same level as he played at in 2015 (though a different league), the stuff still showed up. It was the execution that was the problem for Keury Mella. Control came and went throughout the year. There are some mechanical concerns as he throws with plenty of effort, and he’s battled some shoulder issues in the past, though he’s never had to undergo surgery. Scouts still think there’s a decent chance that he makes the move to the bullpen in the long run, where his mechanics and control may not be much of an issue and his stuff could play well at the back of a bullpen. For now it seems he’s still going to remain in the rotation. He threw a career high 138.2 innings in 2016, a nice step up in innings over his previous best of just 103.0.