Melville shines in professional debut

The Burlington Bees defeated the South Bend Silver Hawks on Wednesday evening, 11-3. Most notable was the sparkling professional debut of Tim Melville, the Royals' fourth round pick in the 2008 draft.

Tim Melville got the start for the Bees and pitched six strong innings, yielding just one run on two hits and a walk while striking out a pair of batters. The 19-year old left the game with a 5-1 lead, and he earned his first professional victory as the Bees' bullpen preserved the rout.

It didn't take Melville long to record his first professional strikeout. The Wentzville, Mo., native fanned the first batter he faced, Brendan Duffy, in what turned out to be a 1-2-3 first inning. The Silver Hawks got their first hit in the second inning, but Melville quickly erased the runner by coaxing a double play grounder.

The young right-hander ran into a little trouble in the third inning, issuing a leadoff walk, followed by a double up the left field line that was just fair. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Melville retired the next three batters on a lineout and two groundouts, limiting the damage to just one run.

From that point on, Melville was unhittable, retiring the side in order over the next three frames. Including the third inning, he retired 12 hitters in a row before being lifted prior to the seventh inning. The Bees added six more runs in the late innings, while Burlington reliever Carson Bryant surrendered two over the final three frames to close out the game.

Melville spent the first month of the season in Extended Spring Training as the Royals decided where to send him when the weather warmed up. The club generally likes to minimize its youngest prospects' exposure to what can often be brutal April weather in the Midwest League – much as it did with Danny Duffy and Sam Runion last season. Melville is an interesting case, however, because he did not get a chance to pitch in rookie ball last season.

Widely regarded as a first round talent, Melville's bonus demands and strong commitment to North Carolina caused him to slide to the fourth round in last year's draft, where the Royals gladly selected him. Because his $1.25 million signing bonus was so far above slot, the Commissioner's Office reportedly sat on the agreement until shortly before the signing deadline, causing Melville to miss the opportunity to pitch in rookie ball.

However, it quickly became clear that Melville is an advanced talent, and his assignment to the Midwest League this month speaks volumes about how highly he is thought of in the organization, which is typically more conservative with its young pitchers.

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