Aztecs’ Troy Melton debuts in highly-anticipated season

SDSU Athletics

(Credit: Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State)

With the San Diego State Baseball season arriving this weekend, it’s time to look at the player MLB scouts are eyeing, Troy Melton.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher grew up in Newport Beach, California, where he played in high school. He was mostly a catcher then, only pitching roughly six innings through his junior year. That offseason, he threw a bullpen that caught the eye of some scouts. For his senior year, Melton turned into a two-way player and eventually decided to come to be a pitcher for SDSU.

In his first two seasons, he threw a total of 25 innings. His freshman year, he only threw 2.2 innings before going down with a lat strain while facing his third batter of the season. His sophomore season was cut short due to the pandemic; he only threw 22.1 innings last season. That helps explain why there is still a lot of excitement around a college pitcher with a 3.60 career ERA. His sample size is quite small, while the talent is still present.

His hype really comes from his play in the Alaska Baseball League during the 2019 offseason. There he pitched 45.2 innings and had a 2.36 era with 38 strikeouts. The ERA was inflated by one bad outing in which he gave up five runs in five innings.

Melton is effective by using a 92-95 mile per hour fastball, a low 80s breaking ball, and a changeup that he has been working on lately. In an exclusive interview with EVT, Melton told us how he used the extra time off from the COVID-19 shortened season to work on his changeup and develop a lot more strength. He is excited to see how his improved changeup will play against actual competition.

Overall, not too many SDSU pitchers received much MLB prospect hype since Stephen Strasburg was the #1 overall pick in 2009. Melton is the exception to this trend. list Melton as the 79th best college prospect. In an article, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis said that Melton just missed out on their list of the top 100 prospects for college and high school players. Baseball America lists him as the Mountain West Conference preseason pitcher of the year, and USA Today placed him on the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.

Naturally, that level of attention can put some extra pressure on a player to perform. “I honestly don’t think about it too much. It kind of is what it is. There is nothing I can do to control their opinion of me or what I do in front of them. Honestly, it’s all up to me pitching well and putting us in a position to win. If I do that, I think everything will take care of itself in time”, Melton said.

In a different interview with coach Mark Martinez, he had a lot of praise and advice for his pitcher. “If he can just be himself, great things are going to come his way, not only for our baseball program but for him personally. If he gets outside of that, that’s where you’re going to see some of his scuffles. He’s a guy that is still very young in his pitching pedigree, so to speak. He was a catcher in high school by trade, so he still has a lot of meat on the bones; that guys really good right now. What’s kind of sad about it, we might not ever get to see the best Troy Melton at San Diego State. We’re going to see that maybe five years down the road – somewhere in the big leagues”, Martinez said.

Credit: Daily Aztec

The pitching staff is one of the clear strengths of SDSU. Behind Melton are two starters that are just as worthy of consideration to be the ace of the rotation. One of those other starters is Michael Paredes. Of Paredes, Melton remarked that “He has shown that he has the ability to compete with anybody. Last season he beat a first-round draft pick in Oklahoma on the road”. The third starter for the team, Kohl Simas, “came over from the dark side” and shows a lot of promise. Simas did transfer over from USD, which is one of the inner-city rivals for SDSU.

Coach Martinez described the pitching staff as the group that “carries the mail.” Melton views that as a good analogy for what the pitchers do for the team. The pitching staff will take the team to where it needs to be. Meaning if the pitchers perform well, the team will too. The staff wants and appreciates the responsibility that is placed on them. They have confidence that they can compete every time they are out there.

At long last, Melton got his opportunity to show his stuff on Friday.

USD attacked him early as they quickly put up two runs, although they were unearned. After settling in, he cruised into the 5th inning before facing more trouble.  In total, for his first outing of the new season, he recorded 4.2 innings pitched, three strikeouts, and a concerning four batters hit by a pitch. The pitcher will make adjustments. Troy Melton is blessed with tremendous upside and will likely toe the rubber each Friday this baseball season for SDSU.

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