Sometimes things just click. Sometimes they just fall into place. Sometimes good things happen to people who work hard.

All of those things happened to Keury Mella in 2018. The 6’2” starting righthanded pitcher began the season at Pensacola (Class AA) and he had a breakout season for the Blue Wahoos.

Mella was obtained by the Reds in the Mike Leake-Adam Duvall trade, as our current rebuilding process got underway. He’s always had potential but Mella was then bothered by a shoulder issue. Not so this year. Mella posted a 7-3 record and in 85 innings of work for Pensacola, struck out 87 and walked only 31 while posting an ERA of 3.07. At Louisville, Mella is trending the same (albeit with a smaller sample size) with a record of 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA.

“I’ve worked very hard in general and made some adjustments,” said Mella before a Bats game against Buffalo last week. “I’ve had better control of my pitches and one thing I wanted to do was pitch inside more effectively.”

“It’s something that sets you up later in the game,” Mella continued through interpreter and fellow starting pitcher Jose Lopez. “Sometimes you can stay away from it early and use it later when you need to. You need to adjust and be effective with it”

Mella credits Reds pitching coach Danny Darwin with his improvement this season. “He’s been working with me since last year and he’s really done good things for me. Danny Darwin has made a big impact on my career.”

In his last start for Louisville, Keury pitched 8 innings, scattering five hits and allowing just a single run. He also did his best Michael Lorenzen imitation, going 2 for 3 at the plate. “I felt really good about that game in general, putting my abilities to work and giving the team a winning effort.”

“The stuff at the plate,” laughed Mella, “I just try to not be an easy out. I enjoy going up there.

“I pretty much have a goal in my mind to go out there, throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters and work fast. If you do that, the infielders and outfielders are on their toes and they can make great plays for you.”

Mella (pronounced mee-yah) was excited when he got the word he was coming up to Louisville. “Being in Double A going back to last year, I just was determined to do my job day in and day out, to get up here to Louisville. At the end of the day, it’s just baseball. You go at it hard every day and move up. Maybe that will be to Cincinnati sometime,” said Mella.

Sure enough. It happened.

Just 19 hours after our conversation, Keury got the word he was being brought up to play for the Reds. I got an email from Alex Mayer, Director of Media & Public Relations with the Bats. “Keury got called up to Cincinnati this afternoon.”

When our conversation concluded, I told Keury that Darwin was waiting for him in Cincinnati. I never knew they would be reunited so soon.

5 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Good stuff John. Mello is a guy that the Reds (or at least RLN) haven’t figured on being a big contributor. We’ve been focused on Castillo and Mahle and Disco, wondering about Garrett and Lorenzen, and campaigning for Stephenson and Reed. What a bonus it will be if Mella does turn out to be a solid middle of the rotation guy. The big question of course is whether or not he’ll get the chance to climb the major league learning curve. Based on his results in AA and Louisville, I sure hope he does get that chance.

    Here’s a slightly related observation. I’m not a Riggleman fan and do not want to see him at the helm next year. But I do like what I’m seeing and hearing from the combination of Danny Darwin and Ted Power guiding the Reds pitching staff. I hope they’re back next year, regardless of who is in the manager’s seat.

    • cfd3000

      Oops. Mella in the first line, not Mello of course.

  2. Hanawi

    I don’t really understand the plan with Mella. He’s barely pitched in AAA. I’d rather he be down there getting starts. He took a pretty good leap forward this year so I’d like to see him continue that.

    • Scott C

      Yeah they push some and stall others. Go figure.