Both Alonso and Melendez went to two of the premiere baseball schools in the country (Florida and Texas, respectively). They are roughly the same size as both are listed at 6-foot-3, although Alonso does have the weight advantage at 245 over Melendez’s 225. Both are right-handed power hitters, that throw right and play first base. However, Melendez is splitting his time between first and third base this season for the High-A Hillsboro Hops. He hasn’t played the hot corner since his sophomore year at Odessa Junior College.
Melendez was the Golden Spikes Award Winner in 2022, awarded to the top college baseball player. After being selected in the second round of the draft (Alonso was selected in the second round of 2016), he spent 25 games with the Low-A Visalia Rawhide. Melendez struggled a bit with the Rawhide, but did manage to hit three home runs and had a .717 OPS in his first taste of pro ball.
Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Ivan Melendez playing well
This season, Melendez started out slow due to a minor injury that ended up costing him some playing time in April. He is now healthy and is punishing the baseball. From May 3 to May 20, he played in 15 games, slashed .300/.382/.650, hit five home runs, six doubles, and had 14 runs batted in. This is a small sample size, but just goes to show what kind of hitter Melendez can be. If he keeps this pace up, he will be making a strong case to get back to the state of Texas, where the Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate is located in Amarillo.
Melendez will need to reduce his amount of swing and miss and strikeouts as he continues up the organizational ladder. In his 68 May plate appearances, he has struck out 24 times. However, with his ability to hit to all parts of the field, his strikeout percentage should be able to get to a tolerable level.
The comparison of the two sluggers goes beyond their on-field abilities and physical build. They both have legendary nicknames as well. Alonso is of course the “Polar Bear,” given to him before his rookie season by teammate Todd Frazier. Melendez is known as the “Hispanic Titanic” after an assistant coach was so impressed by his large frame and the name stuck. Having a strong nickname isn’t a requirement in baseball, but it is a tremendous addition to any top player.
"“Todd Frazier. In Spring Training, he said ‘You look like a big, damn polar bear.’ And then it just kind of stuck. So, if any of you guys know Todd Frazier, he’s a loudmouth from Jersey. He tells it how it is. But I love that guy. He’s a great teammate. But he’s quite the character. He’s a clown. But definitely got it from him.” – Pete Alonzo"
Ivan Melendez has had to earn his playing time and prove himself at every level thus far. There is no reason to believe that his upward climb will slow now. Who knows, someday in the future we may get to see Melendez and Alonso facing off against one another on an MLB field or perhaps even the Home Run Derby.