Kansas City Royals super-utility infielder and emotional spark plug Hanser Alberto will hit the free-agent market and could be an asset for a rival club next season.
Alberto and pitcher Scott Blewett, former second-round draft pick (2014), cleared outright waivers and elected free agency on Friday rather than accept minor-league assignments.
The roster moves cleared two spots on the Royals’ 40-man roster, which now includes 38 players.
Space on the 40-man becomes crucial in the offseason as certain minor-league prospects must be placed on that roster or else become exposed to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially selected by another MLB organization.
Melendez, a catcher, made huge strides in the past year and led all players in the minors with 41 home runs this season and earned the Joe Bauman Award as Minor League Baseball’s 2021 home-run leader.
Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year and the Double-A Central Most Valuable Player, Melendez ranked second among all minor-league players in RBIs (103), third in total bases (280) and slugging percentage (.628) and fourth in extra-base hits (66) in 123 games between Double-A (79 games) and Triple-A (44 games).
Pratto, a first baseman, hit 36 home runs and tied Griffin Conine for the second most among all minor-league players. In 124 games between Double-A (61 games) and Triple-A (63 games), Pratto slashed .265/.385/.602 with 98 RBIs and 71 extra-base hits.
Alberto played in 103 games and slashed .270/.291/.402 with 20 doubles, one shy of his career high. He played three of the four infield positions, logging time at third base (49 games), second base (31 games) and shortstop (17 games). He also pitched 1/3 of an inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 21.
Alberto, who signed a minor-league free-agent contract last offseason, batted .286 with 10 doubles, two triples, two homers and 15 RBIs against left-handed pitchers. He struck out just once in his final 46 plate appearances.
Blewett, a 6-foot-6 245-pound right-hander, primarily pitched for Triple-A Omaha this season after having been designated for assignment on April 1 and outrighted off the 40-man roster on April 6.
Blewett, who made his MLB debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, had three separate stints on the major-league active roster this season.
He did not appear in a game until his third and final stint in the middle of September. He appeared in three games and pitched five innings with four strikeouts, five walks and a 1.80 ERA this season.
This story was originally published October 29, 2021 5:30 PM.