Dec 9, 2014

Late Nineties Mets Reliever: Mel Rojas (1997-1998)

Melquiades Rojas was born on December 10, 1966 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. He is a cousin of former Met Moises Alou and nephew to the famous Alou brothers, Felipe, Matty & Jesus.

The five foot eleven right hander was signed by his uncle one time Met; Jesus Alou, then a scout, in 1985 for the Montreal Expos. He began as a starting pitcher getting converted to a reliver on the minor leagues. In 1989 he was ranked as the 35th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America.

His bebut came  with the Montreal Expos in 1990, where he would spend seven seasons though 1996. He would play under manager Felipe Alou, his uncle & as a team mate to his cousin Moises. In 1992 he was used him in 62 games, with 100 innings pitched, as he went 7-1 with ten saves and posted a spectacular 1.43 ERA for the second place Expos.

In the strike shortened 1994 season, the Expos were in first place but no post season games were played. That yeat he recorded 16 saves (8th in the NL) with a 3.32 ERA. Over the next two seasons he recorded thirty plus saves, coming in the league's top ten in that department both seasons. 

He was as high as 5th in saves in the NL in 1996. The Expos were not going to able to sign him for money reasons going into 1997 and he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs.

Things did not go well there as he found himself at 0-4 with a 4.42 ERA after 54 games. On August 8th 1997 he was traded with Brian McRae and Turk Wendell to the New York Mets for players to be named later and Lance Johnson. The Mets later sent Mark Clark and Manny Alexander to the Cubs to complete the trade.

Rojas did not do too well in New York either; in 1997 he went 0-2 with just two saves, allowing 15 earned runs in 26 innings. The next season-1998, although he went 5-2 with two saves in 50 appearances, but had an ERA of 6.02, allowing 39 runs in 58 innings.

As the Mets were improving under Bobby Valentine, so was their bull pen especially with Turk Wendell who also came over in the deal. Plus with the acquisition of Armando Benitez that winter, Rojas wasn't in the teams plans.

In November of 1998 the Mets traded him to the Dodgers for Bobby Bonilla. He bounced around to the L.A. Dodgers, Detroit Tigers & Montreal Expos in 1999 finishing his MLB career by the end of the season.

Lifetime in his ten year career he was 34-31 with a 3.82 ERA 562 strike outs, 254 walks and 126 saves (98th all time) in 525 appearances.

Retirement: In 2002 he was pitching in the Independent Atlantic League with the Nashua Pride making the Al Star team.

In 2004 he was with the Bridgeport Blue Fish . He is now a pitching coach in the San Diego Padre organization. His son Mel Rojas Jr. was a top pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010.

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