Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look back at Mel Rojas Jr.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

There are several former big league players currently playing in the Korean Baseball Organization.  This includes a former third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2010, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie with their first two picks.  Both were high upside prep pitchers, so it seemed logical for the team to take a college hitter with their third-round pick.  The team ended up selecting college outfielder Mel Rojas Jr. in the third round out of Wabash Valley College.

Not only was he a third-round pick, but also the son of former big-league pitcher Mel Rojas.  Coming into the Pittsburgh Pirates organization there was a high expectation for the toolsy outfielder.  He stood at 6’2” and had above-average athleticism. which gave him a chance to develop into a good player.  Unfortunately, Rojas Jr. never lived up the lofty expectations, and, in fact, never even made it up to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rojas was a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization from 2010 until 2016.  Over those years in the Pittsburgh Pirates minors, he appeared in 684 games, hitting only .257 with a really below average OPS of .688.  Even worse was his ISO which sat at .106, indicating he had very little power projection.

Now Rojas did play really good defense and swiped 80 bases.  However, it was quickly able to see that Rojas would never blossom into the five-tool player that Bucs hoped they were getting.  If anything, he looked liked he would be a fourth outfield option, but a chance to be a good one.

Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to move on from Rojas during the 2016 season.  The team traded him to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.  When it became apparent that Rojas was not going to hit enough to be an everyday player, the team found an organization that just needed minor league outfield depth.  The Braves were one of those teams and kept Rojas around, but they eventually released him after just 54 games in 2017.

From there Rojas was let go and was not able to find an interested MLB team.  So instead, Rojas made the move to the Korean Baseball Organization.  He signed a deal with the KT Wiz and ended up having a strong year, which led to him sticking in the league for the last two seasons.  Over his 2.5 seasons in the KBO he has batted .310 and hit an impressive 85 home runs.

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This year the former Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand is still playing for the KT Wiz, this will be his fourth season with the team.  So far he is off to a slugging start, hitting twi doubles in his first two games.  Once again, if anything else, the KBO is providing decent professional baseball and giving fans to see some of the former players that made their way overseas.