Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Keury Mella


Throughout this series on San Francisco Giants’ prospects, some potentially great starting pitchers have been profiled. Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia, and Kendry Flores are all high-quality talents who have real major league aspirations. But this next young hurler may be the most intriguing of the group.

Keury Mella is a 21 year-old right-hander who hails from the Domincan Republic. The 6’2″, 200-pounder signed as an international free agent in 2011 at the age of 18.

His professional career began in 2012, when Mella pitched in his home country for the Giants’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. That’s where his early domination began. In 14 games, all starts, he went 3-3, and pitched to the tune of a 2.47 ERA and 1.253 WHIP. In 69.1 innings pitched, he struck out 75, and walked 28.

Before even putting on a uniform for an American team, ranked Mella as the Giants’ 19th-best prospect prior to the 2013 season. Mella would respond by pitching in the Rookie League for the Arizona Giants, his first time pitching on American soil. In 10 games, including nine starts, he pitched like the top prospect he was projected as. His record ended up at 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.250 WHIP. He whiffed 41 opponents, and issued 11 free passes in 36 innings. He left quite an impression in his first action in the States.

Mella took a jump in 2014, not just in club level, but in the prospect rankings as well. listed him the fifth-best prospect in the organization, jumping 14 spots from the previous year. Mella began the 2014 season in Single-A with the Augusta Green Jackets. The big jump proved to be a tough test for the 20 year-old, but he fought through, and ended up posting solid numbers. In 12 starts, he went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA and 1.236 WHIP. He tallied 63 punch-outs and 13 walks in 66.1 innings. Mella’s season in Augusta was cut short, as a sore rotator cuff forced him to miss two months.

He would return to the mound, however, in Low-A with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes on a rehab assignment. He started six games, but only totaled 19.2 innings, as the team didn’t want to overload the young arm. He was impressive in his short outings, as he put up a 1.83 ERA and 1.119 WHIP, including 20 strikeouts and six walks.

Keury Mella has the highest ceiling of an Augusta player since Kyle Crick. I think he has the best stuff of an Augusta starting pitcher since

Madison Bumgarner

David Lee

Like so many other young pitchers, Mella’s fastball is his best pitch. It normally runs up in the mid-90’s, reaching as high as 98. He commands it very well, and the heavy sink makes this pitch nearly unhittable when it’s kept down in the zone. When it’s left up, just like any fastball, it’s liable to be crushed. Mella has shown the ability to maintain his fastball velocity throughout the game, and it is a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch.

Mella complements the heat with a changeup and curveball. At 82-86 mph, the changeup provides a good drop in velocity from the fastball. With solid arm-side fade, the potential to be a great second pitch is there. The curveball has sharp bite, but Mella has had issues with leaving it flat a little too often. The command on both is average, but it is improving quickly, as evidenced by his walk-rates.

In 2012, Mella issued 3.6 walks per nine innings. The next season, he dropped that number to 2.8 BB/9. In 2014, the number took another huge tumble, as he surrendered just 2 BB/9. At that rate, he won’t walk anyone in 2017. Maybe not, but that is still a huge improvement.

Mella’s delivery is fairly simple. It looks similar to Santiago Casilla‘s, but a little more mellow than Casilla’s all-out effort. He delivers his fastball and changeup with the same arm motion, creating great deception. He has struggled with release point problems at times, but that issue has become lesser and lesser through his progression.

In this 2014 profile for the Augusta Chronicle, David Lee describe’s Mella as having the “highest ceiling of an Augusta player since Kyle Crick,” and possesing the “best stuff…since Madison Bumgarner.” That is high praise, considering Crick has been the Giants’ number one prospect for two years in a row, and Bumgarner is, well, you know.

Off the field, Mella is known for a high-energy personality, which would fit in the Giants’ clubhouse perfectly. Mella could be displaying that energy for the Giants, sooner rather than later.