Montgomery, Alabama —— Entering play on Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-handed pitching prospect Keury Mella is 2-7 with a 4.45 ERA over 19 games (18 starts) split with the Double-A Southern League‘s Pensacola Blue Wahoos, with 70 strikeouts over 89.0 innings pitched against 91 hits and 34 walks allowed. I observed the 23-year-old Dominican in his July 19 start on the road against Montgomery; below is Baseball Census‘ full Keury Mella scouting report, including video.
Keury Mella Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Keury Mella shows his open-faced mechanics from both the windup and the stretch in that July 19 game on the road against the Montgomery Biscuits, where he allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks against four strikeouts over five innings pitched:
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Keury Mella Scouting Report — Notes
A big, beefy righty who pitches angry, Keury Mella can light up the radar gun at times when his mechanics cooperate. On Wednesday night in Montgomery, his fastball sat in a relatively wide velocity range (89-95 mph), of which the majority were 92-93 mph with some boring action arm-side. He paired the fastball almost exclusively with a slider that sat 83-85 mph, and that one-two punch proved to have Montgomery hitters struggling to make good contact—sometimes to even make contact at all—against the prospect. Mella must hide the ball well (as you can see in the video above, I only observed his arm action from the third base side), and hitters were reacting late to his stuff all night. His fastball is good, but it’s not that good, and some natural deception with his arm action may thus be at play—never a bad thing. To that end, his fastball plays up a bit, and 93 mph out of the hand of Keury Mella may well look like it’s coming harder from a hitter’s perspective.
Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, Mella pitches emotionally, and that’s something the Cincinnati Reds will have to monitor closely across his development path. He’ll carry one missed call into the next at-bat—never ideal, though especially so against Double-A and higher competition—and it’s easy to spot when he gets flustered on the mound. That emotion can certainly be channeled to productive means, and Mella does that (talk about throwing with intent…), but it’s a double-edged sword that he’ll likely forever have to battle to some degree. Listed at 6’2″, 200 lbs., Keury Mella is every ounce and inch of that and then some, and his big, strong frame is ideal for a power pitcher. I’m skeptical that he’ll grow into too much more muscle mass beyond what he has now, but the Cincinnati Reds are hoping so; at 23 years old, he may not have much time left to build much more of a physical base.
Keury Mella Scouting Report — Projection
I can’t imagine too many situations where Keury Mella does anything besides eventually end up in the bullpen. A big, strong guy with a close-to-max-effort delivery right now, it’d be a natural transition for Mella’s intensity and emotion assuming he can channel nerves when entering tight games with runners on base. His fastball/slider combo will uniquely play up in the bullpen, too, and it’s very likely the Cincinnati Reds experience a velocity bump in Keury Mella as he transitions to short power stints.
His pitching mechanics and timing are more or less prepared play across the outfield. He looked much better out of the stretch on Wednesday than he did in the windup. And while Mella’s mental outlook and ability to channel his emotions will forever be in question until it isn’t, his work ethic is above-average and he’s more of a self-starter between outings than one might assume. To that end, further maturity may indeed be coming, and if it does, the sky is the limit for this hard-throwing right-hander. Even so, the likeliest of outcomes—and the most natural of fits—has the Cincinnati Reds soon moving Keury Mella to the bullpen as a set-up man or closer where he could become a truly impressive power pitcher sitting consistently in the upper 90s with his fastball.