KC Royals rookie Melendez finds home run stroke again... with his family in attendance

·3 min read

Member of the Melendez family might have to clear their calendars and start booking some flights, because Kansas City Royals rookie catcher MJ Melendez seems to thrive when they’re in the stands.

Melendez, one of several highly touted young position players who appear poised to be the foundation of the club’s future, snapped out of an offensive slump with two home runs in a 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros on Monday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

The homers were the seventh and eighth of the season for Melendez (in 52 games). He hadn’t homered since June 10.

It just so happened that his parents Mervyl and Aixa as well as his younger brother Jayden, were at Monday’s game.

“I think my last home run was actually when they were in town too, so it’s just kind of funny,” Melendez said. “I know I’m going to hear that one from them. Today was the first game back for a while — I’m really excited to see them. I haven’t seen them yet, so I’m really excited to see them and be able to hang out with them after.”

Melendez had gone 2-for-his-last-24 plate appearances (.083) since June 26.

But he still came into the game ranked among the AL’s rookie leaders in walks (third, 24), home runs (fifth, six), on-base percentage (sixth, .310), extra-base hits (tied for sixth, 15) and RBIs (tied for seventh, 18).

“I think it’s more mental than anything,” Melendez said when asked about adjustments he’s made recently. “I’m just trying to slow things down, take it one pitch at a time, not trying to get it all back on one swing. I feel like I was kind of doing that before, just pressing a little bit and trying to get all my hits back in one at-bat. And that’s not possible.”

The Royals made it a grind for Houston Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, a former member of the Royals’ farm system. They scored two first-inning runs against him and made him throw 36 first-inning pitches.

They’d built a 4-0 lead when Melendez came to the plate with one out in the third inning.

Melendez’s third-inning smash that went 385 feet and into the second deck in right field pushed Kansas City’s lead to five runs. Melendez took advantage of a 3-2 fastball left up and inside.

“I’d fouled one off, I think, the pitch before — straight back — and I just feel like I needed to get on top of it a little bit more,” Melendez said.

Last year’s Minor League Baseball home run king, Melendez recorded his first multi-homer game in the majors when he crushed another inside fastball from reliever Phil Maton.

“I think he just wasn’t doing as much,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “I think you get into a ballpark and they get in here during batting practice and realize he’s got great hands. He can pretty much use the strength in his hands and not have to try to generate too much. The ball will still carry for him.

“He did a great job on both of those balls, staying inside of them and letting the barrel do the work. He’s got impressive power and it’s good to see him get a couple rewards for nice swings.”