Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mel Rojas, Best Thing - 302

The Expos lost their top closer for 1995, but manager Felipe Alou believed they'd be OK, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

That's because they had Mel Rojas.

"The best thing that could happen when you lose a man like (John) Wetteland is to have a guy like Rojas to take the job," Alou told The Sun-Sentinel.

Rojas took over the Expos closing duties that year after three solid years as a reliever for the team. He ended up having two seasons with 30 or more saves. In his 10-season career, Rojas saved a total of 126.

Rojas' career began in 1985, signed by the Expos as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic. His uncle happened to be Alou himself.

Rojas started in the rookie Gulf Coast League in 1986. He moved to single-A Burlington in 1987. He made AA Jacksonville in 1989 and then AAA Indianapolis in 1990.

In August 1990, Rojas made Montreal. He got into 23 games down the stretch, with a 3.60 ERA.

Rojas got into another 37 games for the Expos in 1991 and 68 in 1992. Rojas' 1992 campaign ended with a sterling 1.43 ERA. He also picked up 10 saves.

In 1993, he pitched in another 63 games, with an ERA of 2.95. In the shortened 1994, season he still got into 58 games. He saved 16 and had an ERA of 3.32.

Then, in 1995, he became the Expos closer. That May, he came into the 13th inning and picked up his fifth save of the year. He got that save after concerns over a high work load in previous days, according to The Associated Press.

"Fortunately, Mel is old enough and experienced enough to know how to preserve his arm," Expos pitching coach Joe Kerrigan told The AP afterward.

Rojas ended up pitching in 59 games that year, saving 30. He saved another 36 for the Expos in 1996.

For 1997, Rojas got a big contract to be the closer for the Cubs. He stayed through August, when he was traded to the Mets. In 77 outings on the year, he saved just 15.

Going into 1998, Rojas hoped to return to form with the Mets, according to The New York Times.

"I'm sure I'm going to be able to put it all behind me," Rojas told The Times. "This is a new year. I'm ready to go."

In 50 outings that year for the Rojas had an ERA of 6.05. He played just one more season after that, getting 13 outings in 1999 between the Dodgers, Tigers and Expos, ending his big league career.

Rojas played briefly in 2000. He then played in independent ball and Mexico, throwing his final pitch in 2004.

Rojas' son Mel Rojas, Jr., has since followed his father into the game. He was a third round pick of the Pirates in 2010, reaching AAA in 2014.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,790
Made the Majors: 840 - 46.9%-X
Never Made Majors: 950-53.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361
10+ Seasons in the Minors:213

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