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What to expect from Cincinnati Reds rookie Tim Melville

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds rookie Tim Melville will make his major league debut today, promoted to the majors to make a spot start against the Pittsburgh Pirates in lieu of the injured Anthony DeSclafani. Melville isn't a household prospect name so let's take a look at his background.

Melville was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round in 2008, a home-state kid from high school in Wentzville, Missouri. He was committed to the University of North Carolina and the Royals had to give him a large over-slot bonus at $1,200,000 for him to forgo his education.  Melville was adequate but not outstanding in the low minors, showing promise with a low-90s fastball and a potentially plus curve, but dogged by inconsistency.  A 4.32 ERA with a 108/53 /BB in 135 innings for Wilmington in 2011 was typical.

Melville blew out his elbow and missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons following Tommy John surgery. He came back in 2014 and was mediocre in Double-A,posting a 5.50 ERA with 144 hits in 129 innings with a 105/68 K/BB. The Royals didn't consider him much of a prospect by this point, so he signed as a minor league free agent with the Tigers, posting a 4.63 ERA in 162 innings in Triple-A, 102/68 K/BB in 2015.

Moving on to the Cincinnati Reds for 2016, Melville saw 17 innings of work in spring training for the big league team, posting a nice 14/5 K/B but giving up 22 hits and a 5.71 ERA. Still, the Reds saw enough to give him the spot start this afternoon.

Melville is a 6-4, 220 pound right-hander born October 9, 1989. He features four pitches: a low-90s fastball (using both two-seam and four-seam types), a hard-breaking slider in the mid-80s, a slower curve around 80, and a straight change in the low-to-mid-80s. In my looks at him in the minors the curveball was his best pitch but the slider was erratic. Although his general control is pretty good and he doesn't walk the park, his command within the strike zone was not perfect and his stuff wasn't quite good enough to overpower people if he made a location mistake.

Overall, Melville profiles as a fifth starter or long reliever. He has enough stuff to get beyond that but would need more polish to do so. I suspect his package would play up if used in the bullpen.

One thing that stands out for Melville: his mechanics are very smooth, as shown in this video.