In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Prospect Retrospect: Jackson Melian
Name: Jackson Melian
Position: OF
Vitals: 6'2", 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Born: January 7th, 1980
Hometown: Barcelona, Venezuela
Signed: As an undrafted free agent (1996). Received a $1,600,000 bonus.

Background: Even though his father Vincent named him after some dude named Reggie, baseball was not always Melian's calling in life. Melian was a supremely skilled swimmer - at age 12 he set the Central American record in the 50-meter freestyle - with Olympic success in his not-to-distant future. However, he quit swimming after the Venezuelan national team asked him to move to it's new training facility, at which point he went from speedos to spikes. Barely a year later Melian had transformed himself into a 7-figure bonus baby and the best outfield prospect in the system of his father's beloved Yankees. Melian's family followed him throughout his career, traveling ahead of the team bus to be at each of his games. However, both Melian's parents were tragically killed in a car accident in just his second pro season, an accident that occurred directly in front of the bus carrying Jackson. Melian handled the adversity tremendously, never allowing the tragedy to affect his on-the-field performance.

Strengths: Just about everything. Melian was fast, powerful and graceful all at the same time. At the plate he made hard contact thanks to excellent bat speed, sending balls into the gaps with regularity. He was outstanding in the field, using his speed to cover plenty of ground in the outfield and firing balls back to the infield with a cannon that he kept attached to his right shoulder. He utilized his speed to terrorize pitchers as well, teasing them with big leads before stealing bases almost at will.

Weaknesses: Melian's biggest deficiency was his inability to control the strike zone. Although he drew a respectable amount of walks, his walk totals paled in comparison to his strike out numbers. Melian was always young for his league, which in turn hindered the development of his ability to make consistent contact.

Stats: Immediately after signing, Melian became a regular on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects lists, placing 40th in 1997, 98th in 1998, and 72nd in 1999. Jackson's talents were well-sought after as he was routinely asked for in trade talks - including a 2000 rumor that had him headed to the Cubs as part of a package for Sammy Sosa.

1997GCL Yankees2135611233652-20.263.707
1999Tampa 467132171366198-49.283.768
Chattanooga (CIN)6100000-0.167.334
2001Chattanooga (CIN)426101220165295-36.237.703
2002Huntsville (MIL)184416162463-35.223.726
West Tennessee (CHN)2347217042662-17.308.807
2003West Tennessee (CHN)252658372847-20.258.715
Iowa (CHN)12923403927-8.178.505
2004Greenville (ATL)161318331338-14.193.602
2005Erie (DET)23620015-1.261.628
2006Lakeland (DET)31701036-0.226.532
Toledo (DET)8110004-1.125.472

What Happened? In the midst of a run to their third straight World Series title and fourth in 5 years, the Yankees packaged Melian along with Drew Henson, Ed Yarnall and Brian Reith in a mid-season trade with the Reds for Denny Neagle and Mike Frank. After the trade, Melian joined then prospects Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns to form the "Gen-X" outfield, however Melian's bat never came around and he has not come close to reaching his enormous ceiling.

Melian was placed on waivers by the Reds to make room for Joey Hamilton after the 2001 season, at which point he was claimed by the Brewers, who soon after traded him to the Cubs for Robert Machado. Melian has bounced around from organization to organization since 2000, playing for a total of 6 different organizations and 11 different teams, including a second stint with the Bombers.

Melian is currently playing the Detroit Tigers system, where he began the year playing for High-A Lakeland before being promoted to Triple-A Toledo on April 16th. Melian is fulfilling DH duties, and as of April 19th he has a .205-.225-.282-.507 combined line to go along with zero SBs and a 10-1 K/BB ratio. Still only 26 years old, Melian will likely never reach the majors with any staying power.
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