Mel Rojas Jr. was never a top-level prospect. He hasn’t played in affiliated ball since 2017 and when he tried to return last offseason he was virtually ignored by affiliated ballclubs. At the same time, Rojas has only played a trio of seasons in Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana. Rojas himself is a native of Indianapolis, but his father was from the Dominican, and due to his status as a big leaguer is still well known and respected in his native country. The point being, it’s ok if you aren’t very familiar with Mel Rojas Jr. but that is something you need to change post haste.
Since his departure from affiliated ball Rojas has been playing for the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization. He’s managed to fly under the radar in Korea despite being great throughout his tenure with the Wiz. Most of that is due to the Wiz being a very middle of the pack KBO ballclub. The end result is that most people sleep on Rojas and that is very, very unfortunate for them. This is a hitter who has put up consecutive seasons with WRC+’s of 125, 139, 148, and now 187 this year. His KBO career was great from the word jump but he’s also managed to improve each and every year.
This year is different, Rojas hasn’t just been great, he’s been otherworldly. It’s unclear what the reason is behind Rojas’ dominance. Perhaps it was the arrival and fantastic play of Roberto Ramos that caused the Wiz star to find another gear. Maybe this is simply the natural progression in a KBO career that has been better each and every season? Or, maybe this is Rojas getting mad about being ignored during the offseason and wanting to prove to everyone who ignored him how foolish they were in their decision?
Whatever the reason may be, Rojas has reached new heights this year. The aforementioned Ramos started off hot and stayed strong until an injury has sidelined him for a little bit. Rojas started off strong and has managed to keep pace with the LG Twins slugger. If Rojas can avoid the injury bug there’s no reason he shouldn’t end the year as the KBO’s Most Valuable Player. One thing is clear, Ramos and Rojas have pulled far away from the rest of the league.
Through 151 plate appearances, The former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect is slashing .383/.417/.709. He’s hit 10 doubles and 12 home runs which contribute to an ISO of .326. He’s not walking much, 5.3%, and his K rate is a little high, 23.2%. Still, those numbers don’t matter all that much when Rojas is clobbering the baseball with regularity. The big hacks Rojas takes are going to lead to some strikeouts, but he’s making consistent contact and absolutely destroying the baseball almost every time he does make contact.
In 2020 the switch-hitting Rojas has already produced 2.7 kWAR. He’s well on his way to a 10+ kWAR season. The Wiz are the Wiz and not doing all that great. Ramos has been the new hot thing and couple that with Rojas’ place on the Wiz and he has once again flown mostly under the radar. If people don’t start paying attention to Rojas he may end up with 200+ WRC+ seasons because he gets so frustrated at the lack of respect tossed his way. You know what, keep ignoring what Rojas is doing, watching him dominate the league is so much fun for those of us paying attention to what he’s doing.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Yonhap News