Who: Timothy Macgill Melville
DOB: 10/9/1989 Wentzville, Missouri
Weight: 210 lbs.
Acquired: 2008 Draft (4th round)
~ Baseball America #14
~ Kevin Goldstein NR in top 20
~ Royals Review #17
~ Scouting Book #13
~ John Sickels #15 – C+
~ Kings of Kauffman 2010: #6
In many ways, Tim Melville represents the draft strategy employed by Dayton Moore that catapulted the Royals into the top of every publication’s farm system rankings. Out of high school, teams passed on Melville on the assumption that his signing bonus would be too high coming out of high school. With a spot ready for him at the University of North Carolina, most assumed he would pass up anything but first round money. When teams let him slip through the first round, the supplemental round and all the way to the fourth round, the Royals were the team that finally took a shot. They were able to sign him for a $1.25 million bonus that gave them a first round talent in the fourth round.
Pre-draft scouting reports deemed Melville one of the top prep pitchers in the draft and lauded his size and stuff. He possesses a plus fastball that sits around 92-93 mph. His frame suggests that he could add velocity as he develops, as he’s only 20 years old. He also throws a 12-to-6 knuckle curve that he can throw with a range of velocity from 70-78 mph. His changeup is still coming – with his fastball/curveball combination, he probably didn’t really need a third pitch in high school, so that’s something to work on.
Mechanically, he’s clean and can repeat his delivery, but the Royals have had him increase his arm speed to fit the rest of his motion.
Melville has talent, for sure. He can develop to be a true power pitcher, but his issues have been with command, as he has a rough 192/99 K/BB ratio over 214.1 professional innings. So far, he’s walked 4.2 batters per 9 innings at the lower levels which just won’t cut it as he advances up the ladder. To this point, he hasn’t been hurt too badly by it, but it’s hampered his numbers.
Despite those issues, the upside is great with Melville. Most scouts see him as a potential #2/3 starter in a rotation. To this point, he’s been durable, but the Royals have been limiting his innings and the amount of walks and strikeouts he puts up in a game elevate his pitch count. In 2010, he spent some time on the injury list with Wilmington, during which time he made two rehab starts with Arizona in the Rookie League. It’s not clear what the injury was or if it was just a way to limit his innings. After the time away, he pitched moderately better, throwing 27.2 innings, striking out 22 and walking 11. His ERA over those final few starts came to 4.55 which helped keep his Wilmington ERA below 5.00.
As he moves up, walks will be an issue if he’s to be successful. He hasn’t been hit too hard yet, but giving up four free passes every nine innings is going to be problematic when facing pitchers who can hit his stuff. Perhaps he’ll work on the changeup and his command of the other two pitches and come into 2011 ready to realize his immense potential. I know I’m lower than most on Melville. The walkrate really scares me a bit, especially when it increased with a jump in levels and his strikeout rate also decreased. His FIP was 4.36 with Wilmington, so he hasn’t had the best of luck (he also only stranded 60.5% of baserunners last year in High A, though to be fair, he put some of those on with walks in the first place.)
Also, as Wally pointed out in last season’s rankings on Kings of Kauffman, Melville was 19 years old in Low A where the average age was 21.7 years old. He might have been a little overwhelmed in his first two seasons. Another year at High A Wilmington seems right for him in 2011where he can work towards fixing his control issues and developing a third pitch. Since Melville won’t turn 21 until after the season, the Royals may still monitor his innings and if he sees time in Double A, it may only be very late in the year depending on his workload at the end of summer.
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