MJ Melendez of the Kansas City Royals bats in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Kauffman Stadium on August 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Puerto Rican outfielder MJ Melendez of the Kansas City Royals has commited to playing for the Criollos de Caguas for the 2023-24 Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente regular season and will suit up for the organization during December for a few games, general manager Jesús Feliciano reported on Monday.
The 2023-24 winter league season will be the first time that Melendez has played during an MLB offseason.
Melendez, 24, was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and has spent six professional seasons with the Royals organization since being drafted in the second round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of Westminster Christian School in Miami.
This past season, Melendez played his second season in the Major Leagues, appearing in 148 games and batting .235 with 602 plate appearances and 125 hits, 29 doubles, five triples, 16 home runs, 56 RBI, 62 walks, and 170 strikeouts with a .713 OPS.
Melendez also suited up for Puerto Rico during the 2023 World Baseball Classic and helped the island reach the quarterfinals of the tournament, where they lost to Mexico 5-4 in Miami at loanDepot Park. Melendez played in five games with 15 at-bats batting .200 recording three hits, one double, scoring three runs, four RBI, four walks, and six strikeouts.
In his rookie season, Melendez made his big league debut on May 2, 2022, when he was called up from Triple-A Omaha. He played in 129 games batting .217 with 534 plate appearances recording 100 hits, 21 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs, 62 RBI, 66 walks, and 131 strikeouts alongside a .706 OPS.
Melendez’s arbitration eligibility will be up during the end of the 2025 regular season with the Royals.
The Gigantes de Carolina, RA12, Cangrejeros de Santurce, Indios de Mayagüez, Leones de Ponce, and Criollos de Caguas are the teams that will play during the 2023-24 LBPRC season.
The Leones de Ponce will play against Criollos de Caguas on November 3 at Estadio Yldefonso Sola Morales at 7:45 p.m. EDT.
The remaining four teams will start the season on November 4. The Indios de Mayaguez will play RA12 at 7:45 p.m. EDT at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on November 4 and the Cangrejeros de Santurce will play their first game of the 2023-24 LBPRC winter league season on the road against the Gigantes de Carolina at Estadio Roberto Clemente at 7:45 p.m. EDT.
Individual team social media pages from the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente will have information on upcoming games to be streamed on their Facebook and YouTube pages.