Right-hander Tim Melville is pitching at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, just like he was in 2012.
While Melville is exactly where he was two years ago, he’s come a long, long way.
“He had a rough two years because of injuries, but he’s off to a great start,” said J.J. Picollo, the Royals' Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development. “He’s really throwing the ball exceptionally well as far as strikes are concerned, his velocity is back. He’s been between 91 and 94 (mph), his curveball has been good.
“A lot of positive things are happening for him. I’m just happy for a kid like that who had two years of kind of disappearing. Hopefully, he can continue with that.”
The Royals seemed to get a steal in the 2008 draft when they selected the 6-foot-5 Melville, who attended Holt High School in Wentzville, Mo. He was projected as a first-round pick, but fell to the fourth round because of fears that he would attend North Carolina instead of signing. But the Royals gave him a $1.25 million bonus, and his career got off to a decent start.
By 2011, Melville had a 4.32 ERA in a full season at Class A-Advanced Wilmington. Not dazzling, but pretty good for a 21-year-old, and the Royals promoted him to Class AA Northwest Arkansas for the 2012 season.
Melville allowed three runs or fewer in four of his five starts before his world was turned upside down. Melville took a comebacker off the pinkie finger on his throwing hand, shattering it. After missing most of the season, he returned to make four starts between the Arizona League and Class A Kane County.
However, Melville injured his arm, requiring Tommy John surgery.
Melville missed nearly all of last season, although he returned briefly to pitch 2 2/3 innings for Rookie-Advanced Idaho Falls. Now Melville is back at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, and he made his fourth start of the season Tuesday as the Naturals beat Springfield 3-2.
Melville allowed one run on four hits in five innings, although he walked five and struck out five. His ERA dropped to 2.50.
Picollo said he’s impressed with Melville’s mental tenacity.
“Injuries are hard, especially the surgeries when you’re out for a year, because it’s such a long year for them,” Picollo said. “Being in Arizona, not being competitive with the way they’re used to being competitive. It can be a really trying time for guys mentally. Tim’s persevered through it.”
**As for Tuesday’s game, first baseman Mark Threlkeld hit a two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Naturals. Threlkeld had two hits, as did center fielder Lane Adams, who hit a solo shot in the fourth inning. Malcom Culver gave up a run in the eighth inning, but got the victory.OTHER GAMES
**Sugar Ray Marimon allowed one run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings as Class AAA Omaha beat Nashville 5-1. Marimon struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk. He improved to 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. Left fielder Carlos Peguero hit a solo homer, while right fielder Melky Mesa and center fielder Paulo Orlando both had a pair of hits.
**Left-hander Matt Tenuta scattered five hits over seven innings with one walk and two strikeouts as Class A Lexington held off Hickory 4-3. Tenuta’s ERA dropped to 1.09. Kevin Perez gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Catcher Chad Johnson hit a solo homer and scored two runs, and second baseman Ramon Torres had two hits.