Cristofer Melendez

CRISTOFER MELENDEZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: September 16, 1997
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2014, Astros
How Acquired: Trade (from Padres)
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: N/A

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

Melendez struggled through three seasons in the Dominican Summer League before Houston gave up on him.  The White Sox picked him up and he improved substantially, although he was old for the level by then.  He runs his fastball up to 96, but doesn’t hold his velocity well.  His out pitch is a curve and he also throws a change.  San Diego selected him in the minor league phase of the 2018 Rule 5 draft.  The Padres immediately sent him to the Pirates for cash in a deal that no doubt was worked out in advance.

2015
DSL:  2-4-0, 2.78 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 5.6 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

Melendez pitched in short relief in his debut.  He didn’t pitch as well as the ERA implies, as shown by his walk and K rates.  He didn’t get hit hard, but opponents had a .382 OBP against him.

2016
DSL:  4-2-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 35.0 IP, 4.6 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

Back in the DSL and still pitching in relief, Melendez had a somewhat similar season, although his K rate was good.

2017
DSL:  0-3-3, 7.68 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 36.1 IP, 6.7 BB/9, 7.9 K/9

In his third try at the DSL, Melendez went backwards.  His walk and K rates regressed, and opponents got on base at a .407 clip.  Houston released him after the season.

2018
DSL:  4-4-0, 1.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 70.1 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 11.9 K/9

The White Sox signed Melendez at the end of spring training and sent him back to the DSL for his fourth try.  Pitching mostly as a starter, he made dramatic progress, with a very high K rate and an opponents’ OPS of just .454.

2019
A:  2-3-1, 5.13 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 47.1 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 14.5 K/9

Melendez joined Greensboro out of extended spring training in mid-May and spent the season there.  He had an interesting year, with an outstanding K rate.  He had control problems but not drastic ones and opponents only hit 203/327/314 against him.  Somehow though — partly due to a very low strand rate of 62.5% — he had a bad ERA.  His xFIP of 3.18 was very good.  He had a big home/road split, with a .739 opponents’ OPS at home and .564 on the road, so the high-offense park at Greensboro may have inflated his overall numbers.  He had a moderate platoon split, with right-handed hitters putting up a .611 OPS and left-handed hitters .706, with the difference mainly resulting from a very high walk rate against the latter.

Apart from payroll-slashing, one of the Pirates’ bigger focuses in the 2018-19 off-season was adding lower level pitching depth.  The addition of Melendez seems to have worked out, if the big K rate holds.  They’ll have to decide whether to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, as the K rate could tempt somebody.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2020: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2015
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2021
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
July 7, 2014: Signed by the Houston Astros as an international free agent.
August 25, 2017: Released by the Houston Astros.
April 3, 2018: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Chicago White Sox.
December 13, 2018: Selected by the San Diego Padres from the Chicago White Sox in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
December 13, 2018:
Traded by the San Diego Padres to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.