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.
John lives in Galesburg, Illinois and has been a Reds fan all of his life. He is a retired firefighter and a Veteran who served for 32 years but stays active at the local Humane Society. His favorite Reds players include Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Tony Perez, Eric Davis, and Bronson Arroyo. While writing, he frequently listens to the music of Led Zeppelin and Steely Dan. He is flanked in the photo by ever-loyal “Reptar.”