Baseball

Ivan Melendez to return for his junior season

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Redshirt sophomore Ivan Melendez was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 16th round of the 2021 MLB draft. Last Thursday, he told El Paso’s KTSM he hoped to make a decision within a week on whether he would return to Austin or begin his professional career.

Wednesday, the Titanic announced he would play another season at the Disch.

Melendez played in 59 games during Texas’ 2021 season, mostly at designated hitter. He led the team in hitting and slashed .319/.438/.603 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with a team-high 13 homers. He tallied 65 hits, 13 doubles, and 51 RBI during his first season in Austin. He was honored as the first-team All-Big 12 designated hitter.

During the College World Series, Melendez hit the most important of his 13 home runs. In an elimination game versus eventual national champion Mississippi State, Melendez slugged a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give Texas an 8-5 lead and set up a winner-take-all game with the Bulldogs.

Melendez homered in six-straight games in April, including a two-homer game in the series finale at Kansas State. He had very few opportunities to play in the field during the 2021 season, and developing at a defensive position is likely Melendez’ biggest offseason priority.

The El Paso product attended Odessa College after a prep career at Coronado High School. During the 2021 season, David Pierce credited former Longhorn Omar Quintanilla with putting Melendez on Texas’ radar and offering a strong recommendation.

With the departure of Zach Zubia and Cam Williams for professional opportunities, Melendez becomes the biggest offensive returner for the 2022 team along with Tristan Stevens’ return to the pitching rotation.

Texas finished No. 3 in the final D1Baseball.com top 25 of the 2021 season.