Tim Melville has been announced as the starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The right hander was scheduled to pitch for the Louisville Bats this weekend, but Anthony DeSclafani isn’t quite ready to return to the big league rotation after suffering an oblique injury in spring training.
Tim Melville was already in the running for the rotation, but originally seemed to be moved past for a spot start because he’s not on the 40-man roster. With DeSclafani now unable to return for the target date the Reds will add him to the roster for Sunday’s game. A corresponding big league move hasn’t been announced yet, but I’d imagine that it would involve Brandon Allen who was just called up on Friday.
Melville was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 4th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft and peaked as the 93rd overall prospect in baseball after the 2009 season where he posted a 3.79 ERA in 97.1 innings while pitching for Burlington. That was the only season in his career in which he had an ERA under 4.00. He’s struggled with control throughout his minor league career, never posting a walk rate under 4.00 batters per 9.0 innings pitched in a season.
The stuff has always been there and been good enough to get hitters out, but the struggles with the strikezone have held him back. In the 2015 season, while pitching in the Detroit Tigers farm system at the Triple-A level that trend seemed to be holding true. That is until the final six weeks of the season when Melville started seven games for Toledo, throwing 41.1 innings with just eight walks and 37 strikeouts to go with a 3.48 ERA.
Cincinnati signed him to a minor league deal in the offseason with an invite to big league spring training. He struggled in on start, on March 14th where he walked three batters in 3.1 innings pitched. He pitched well outside of that, particularly when it comes to his control. In 17.1 total innings this spring he walked just five batters and had 14 strikeouts. His ERA was 5.71 on the spring, but between the Arizona air letting the ball fly and the small sample size of the spring, it’s not too telling.
What can we expect from Tim Melville in his debut? Well, you never really know how a player is going to react to their debut. Some guys deal with the nerves a little better than others. What we can do is look at the kind of stuff that we should expect from him. Last season he was working in the 91-93 MPH range with his fastball and touching a little bit higher at times. With the weather in Cincinnati today that may be a tad lower. He’s also going to show a slider and a curveball, both of which are solid offerings.