Prospect Profile: Mark Melancon


This is a profile of Yankees relief pitching prospect Mark Melancon. To find out the latest news on Melancon click here.

Mark Melancon | RHP

Melancon was born in Wheat Ridge, CO and grew up in nearby Golden, just outside of Denver. He attended Golden High School, where he lettered all four years in baseball and basketball and three times in football. He helped capture the National Championship in baseball, winning the clinching game after doubling off Ian Kennedy earlier in the double elimination tournament. Melancon was named to the All-State Team twice in his career (as well as twice in football and once in basketball) and graduated as a member of the National Honors Society.

Despite being rated the third best prospect in the state by Baseball America, Melancon was not a major prospect for the 2003 Draft. The Dodgers grabbed him the 30th round, adding him to a haul that included Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Russ Martin and Andy LaRoche. Melancon didn’t sign, instead following through on his commitment to The University of Arizona.

Melancon established himself as a strong contributor out of the bullpen as a true freshman, allowing just 55 hits and 19 walks against 46 strikeouts in 62.1 IP. He set a single season freshman record by making twenty-nine appearances, and followed that up by going 2-0 with two saves in five postseason appearances as Arizona returned to the College World Series for the first time since 1986. The Wildcats went 1-2 in the CWS, losing twice to Georgia in the double elimination tournament. While pitching for the USA National Team over the summer Melancon made ten appearances and led the club with five saves. He allowed just seven baserunners (all hits) and zero runs in 12.2 IP.

After his dominant performance with the National Team, Melancon was given Arizona’s closer’s job as a sophomore and he had another record breaking season. He topped his freshman mark by appearing in thirty-four of the team’s sixty games, and also set a new single season record by notching eleven saves (potential ’09 first rounder Jason Stoffel broke the record with thirteen saves last year). Melancon’s 66.1 innings was more than anyone on the staff outside the team’s top two starters, and he finished the year with a 1.10 WHIP and 9.40 Kper9. The Wildcats went 2-2 in the Regionals, losing a doubleheader to Cal State Fullerton to end their bid for a second consecutive trip to Omaha. Melancon finished the year with fourteen career saves, tied for most in school history.

Prior to his junior season Melancon was one of forty players named to the watch list for the Roger Clemens Award, which is given each season to college baseball’s best pitcher. Arizona’s pitching staff was stretched thin because of graduation and injury in 2006, and Melancon was forced to work an even heavier workload than usual. He set the school’s career saves record in the second game of the year, throwing three hitless innings against Loyola Marymount. After racking up 39.1 IP over just fourteen appearances (1.25 WHIP, 11.9 Kper9) Melancon came down with elbow pain which was ultimately diagnosed as a strained elbow ligament. He didn’t require surgery, however he was shut down in early April and didn’t pitch the rest of the season. Melancon finished his Wildcat career with 18 saves, the most in school history (Stoffel has since tied that mark, and will assuredly break it this year).

Melancon was considered a borderline first round talent prior to his junior season, when Baseball America rated him the top prospect in the state, the 14th best college prospect, and the 35th best draft prospect overall. His injury killed his stock because teams feared he would need Tommy John surgery. Melancon ultimately fell to the ninth round, when the Yanks grabbed him with the 284th overall pick. The Yankees were satisfied with condition of his elbow following an MRI, and signed him to a well-above slot $600,000 bonus, the equivalent of mid-second round money. He was assigned to Short Season Staten Island after a brief tune-up at homebase in Tampa.

Pro Career
Melancon got into seven regular season games with the Baby Bombers after signing, then picked up the save in both of Staten Island’s wins in the NY-Penn League Finals, recording four outs without incident (two strikeouts) to clinch the title in the deciding Game Three. The Yankees sent Melancon to the reborn Hawaii Winter Baseball league after the season for extra work, however he had to be shut down after just four appearances because of elbow soreness. Melancon underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2006 and missed the entire 2007 regular season.

Melancon didn’t suffer any setbacks during his rehab, and he attended Instructional League in both Tampa and the Dominican in the fall of 2007. Not only did he finish the six week camp in the Dominican, he moved in with teammate Jairo Heredia and stuck around for a few weeks of extra work. After the season he returned to Tuscon and took twenty one hours of college courses towards completing his degree.

The Yankees invited Melancon to Major League Spring Training in 2008, and he picked up the save in his only appearance with the big boys before being assigned to minor league camp. He began the year in High-A Tampa, but he was promoted to Double-A Trenton in mid-May after just 25.1 strong innings (2.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP). Melancon was even more dominant in Trenton, throwing 49.2 innings of 1.81 ERA & 0.89 WHIP ball before being bumped up the Triple-A Scranton at the end of July.

At his best with Scranton, Melancon put up a 0.75 WHIP in 20 innings down the stretch, helping the Yanks to the postseason. He was his usual shutdown self in the playoffs, allowing just two baserunners against three strikeouts in two appearances as Scranton took home the International League Title. All told, Melancon threw 95 innings over just 44 appearances on the season, allowing just 69 hits (.202 avg against) and 22 walks while striking out 89 and posting a 1.54 GB/FB ratio.

Scouting Report
Melancon regained his pre-TJ stuff by the end of 2008, sitting 92-94 and touching 96 with good life on his fastball. His out pitch is a hard 12-to-6 curveball that he can drop in for strike one or use to get chases for strike three. He toyed with a splitter in college, however the Yanks had him scrap in favor of a true changeup that is now a usable third pitch. Melancon commands his two main pitches extremely well, and he often threw ten or fewer pitches per inning last season, leading to so many multiple inning outings.

The biggest drawback for Melancon is his delivery. He’s a max effort guy that comes straight over the top, although the Yanks have been working to clean it up his motion since he signed. It does benefit him slightly however, because it adds deception and creates a steep downhill plane for his pitches. Until he smooths it out, he’ll always be an injury risk. Now twenty-six months out of surgery, Melancon is officially clear of the procedure. Perhaps his best tool is his work ethic and makeup, which is off the charts and has been lauded since high school.

You can see his MLB Scouting Bureau video here. You can also check out Melancon closing out the NY-Penn League Title Game here (via Robert Pimpsner), as well as a slew of clips from last year here (via Mike Ashmore).

2009 Outlook
Melancon was worthy of a September call up last year, but the Yanks choose to shut him down after such a large workload during the season. He’ll compete for a bullpen job in Spring Training, but may have to settle for a return trip to Scranton because of the numbers crunch. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’ll make his big league debut at some point in 2009, perhaps as early as May. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, but it would be an upset if he wasn’t on the 40-man roster by then.

My Take
Colorado has history of producing quality big league pitchers (Roy Halladay & Goose Gossage are the most notable), and it looks like the state has produced another gem in Melancon. Like everyone else, I love the kid. As if his stuff wasn’t good enough, his all-out attack approach and outstanding makeup are just icing on the cake. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t force his way to the big league bullpen by June, and there’s a good chance he could become one of Joe Girardi‘s most trusted relievers in the second half. I look forward to seeing him march out of the Yanks’ bullpen for many years to come.

Photo Credit: Reuters Pictures

Categories : Prospect Profiles


  1. Manimal says:

    Hes probably my favorite prospect. Anyways, it is pretty hard to say he will be the next closer, I mean Mo is godly. However, I think he will be a very valuable reliever for a long time.

  2. UWS says:

    Ohoho, that is SWEET!

    So, I’m guessing inning assignments will be Melancon for the 7th, Joba for the 8th, Mo for the 9th? It’s all about shortening the game, people!

    • Spaceman.Spiff says:

      Mo for the 9th, Joba for the 8th, CC for the 7th, AJ for the 6th, Melancon for the 5th. Then we go with a rotation of CMW, Hughes, Pettitte, IPK, Aceves and have them pitch max effort for 4 innings. Shortening games to 4 innings ftw!

      • UWS says:

        No, you have to let the starter go 5 innings for the win. I guess that means AJ can stay at starter.

        • Spaceman.Spiff says:

          Nah, wins are overrated. Let’s see the man get some holds! If Hughes turns out to be good we can stick him in the 4th.

          • Steve O. says:

            No! You all are insane, the best pitchers need to pitch later in the game and for only one inning. That way, the Yankees can have a two inning game.

            3rd Phil Hughes
            4th Andy Pettite
            5th CMW
            6th AJ Burnett
            7th CC Sabathia
            8th Joba
            9th Mo

            The rotation will be headed by IPK, Igawa, Aceves, Hacker, and Kontos. Does it really matter who pitches the first 2 innings with a bullpen like this? I don’t think so.

      • Sally says:

        Let AJ take IPK’s spot, IPK isn’t that great.

  3. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    ZOMG!!11!1 If IPK cant get closers out, how can he get MLB Hitters oUT!!!?!?!!

  4. pat says:

    ***** MANCRUSH ALERT*****

    Love everything about the kid. Hes got the killer instict and the stuff to back it up. He doesnt care about stats just wants to pitch and win games. It sounds corny and ESPN-ish but his attitude and work ethic are what makes me like him so much. He went back and got his college degree, he’s a gym rat. It wouldn’t suprise me at all if he becomes one of girardi’s favorite kids on the team. They’re like two peas in a harshly militiristic pod.

  5. John NY says:

    Seems like the Yanks have a good situation going into camp in regards to the bullpen. To have someone like Melancon waiting in the wings has me thinking the yanks don’t need to go out and get a Juan Cruz type guy on the open market. The bullpen will straighten itself out internally.

    • Tom Zig says:

      I agree, as much as I would love to have Juan Cruz, every time a free agent reliever is signed I worry that they will suddenly become Kyle Farnsworth redux, but without the slamming of paul wilson and jeremy affeldt to the ground. With our current bullpen and guys like Melancon and Robertson competing in ST, I think we’ll be more than ok.

    • Steve O. says:

      It’s not just about getting Juan Cruz to help the bullpen. It’s about getting him to help the bullpen and beating the FA compensation system.

    • Bo says:

      Bullpens are year to year types. Another arm like Cruz wouldn’t hurt to have.

      • Spaceman.Spiff says:

        Is it possible to sign Juan Cruz and deal him to another team immediately that doesn’t want to pay the 1st round price compensation? Maybe offer us a recent 3rd rounder or late 2nd rounder?

        • MattG says:

          no, but it is possible to sign Cruz and trade him in July, when relievers always are in high demand…

          or keep him and get a supplemental pick (at worst) plus the possibility of a first round pick.

          I mean, look at what you get: one year of Juan Cruz, a guaranteed pick in the 30-50 area, and maybe a pick in the 16-30 area or 50-65 area, for a few million and a 4th round pick. That’s a super good deal.

          • Mike Pop says:

            Well it is possible to deal him but he would have to wave his rights? or something like that. Olney had an article on this. I would rather sign him to keep him because I don’t think trading for him would net you enough.

  6. Manimal says:

    I’m wearing a game used + signed hat of his right now.

  7. Ricky says:

    Thats my boy! Hope he represents Colorado well….I didnt know he was from here. I visit Golden every Sunday so that’s cool he’s from there.

    • Ricky says:

      “Colorado has history of producing quality big league pitchers (Roy Halladay & Goose Gossage are the most notable), and it looks like the state has produced another gem in Melancon.”

      Let’s hope so…and dont forget Brad Lidge (pitched for my high school’s rivals)

  8. The Evil Empire says:

    Who’s pitching the 7/8th inning for us on opening day?

  9. Glen L says:


  10. LC says:

    This Melancon kid’s dedication is a clear sign of Pedroia’s motto: “It’s all about championships.”


    I really can’t wait to see him pitch in the new stadium though.

  11. frits says:


    I don’t like what he does with his wrist in the 3.5-4.0 second frame in this video. Its implied tension in the wrist, and its not usually associated with good mechanics. Hopefully he plunges his arm more cleanly in the future, like CC.

  12. Jason O. says:

    Drool, drool, drool….

  13. Steve O. says:

    Was Melancon ever a converted starter to the bullpen?

    • Don says:

      He was our ace in high school. Pretty much threw 7 innings every game. Threw 7 on the morning of the state championship, and then closed the afternoon game of the state championship. He was a really good starter at one point. But not since high school. He would have been a starter at Arizona in his junior or senior season if he had stayed healthy.

  14. JohnC says:

    Sign Joe Beimel instead of Cruz. He’s a crafty lefty who wouldn’t cost a draft pick cause he was not offered aribitration. Was 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA for the Dodgers last season.

  15. A.D. says:

    No shout-out to Shawn Chacon as part of the great Colorado HS pitching legacy?

  16. A.D. says:

    So you’re telling me we can pencil Melancon into the hall right now.

    I somewhat want the yankees to trade some pen arms so we can see Melancon even sooner.

    • Manimal says:

      I agree, I think Veras ends up being the odd man out.

      • Bo says:

        Why trade anyone? Why not have a surplus of good, talented arms?

        Because no one gets hurt or anything??

        • Mike Pop says:

          40 man spots? I would rather trade some that are eligible than have them get taken from us for nothing.

        • A.D. says:

          If you never move anyone then eventually either they’ll leave or your farm system will be picked off by Rule V.

          Right now Veras & Edwar’s stock is at an all time high coming off very good seasons. If they can repeat a team might be willing to make a decent deal for some type of package for those guys.

          Think what Pitt got for Marte & Nady. Now Veras isn’t a lefty but if he’s putting up good numbers Yankees might be able to move Veras & Nady for a good prospect at the deadline.

    • Mike Pop says:

      I think Edwar and Veras are going to be the odd men out after this season. For Melancon and Robertson.

      • Brooklyn Ed says:

        I think so too, but what about Albaladejo? the forgotten reliever. He actually did good before hitting the DL.

      • MattG says:

        That would be sweet. And not because Edwar, Veras and Bruney pitch particularly poorly, but because Melancon and Robertson are so good.

        • Zack says:

          What did Robertonson show last year that Veras didnt?
          And of the 23 runs Veras gave up, 5 came in one game against the Sox without getting an out, take that away and his era was below 3 and he be considered a stud. And dont bring up walks because you guys want Cruz and hes a walk machine.

          But again it just depends who struggles first.

      • SF Yanks says:

        I kinda think (read: hope) you’re right. I don’t trust Veras, nor Bruney for that matter…..norrrrr Edwar for that matter. I think anyone of them at any time can revert to being, well, sucky. I’m willing to give Edwar a shot, but Veras and Bruney? I’d like to see how they do in camp before giving them a spot. It’s hard to go from being crappy all your life to being consistently good.

        I just looked up those three on baseball reference and holy Moses….they sure walk a ton of guys, especially Bruney. Yeah, I’ve already known that, but still…makes you wonder. Is it really that hard to throw strikes? I’ve played some baseball in my life (not as a professional of course) and I gotta say, it really isn’t that hard. They’re effin professionals! Throw strikes! Ugh, that just irritates me sometimes.

  17. Mike Pop says:

    Wouldn’t it be funny if he came up and dominated, and then Harold, Joe, and all the other “great baseball minds” say how he needs to be moved to the starting rotation because that would fit him better.

    • jsbrendog says:

      and the b-jobbers start saying “why is this guy with 2 plus ptches and a third good pitch in the bullpen when he could be going 6-9 innings every 5th day!!

      • Mike Pop says:

        Then you bring up why Joba should be a starter and they just walk away, yelling that they are right.

      • Zack says:

        so if injuries occur you’d rather have Aceves or Kennedy or Ponson or whoever making 30starts instead of Joba?

        • jsbrendog says:

          what the hell are you talking about? joba is a starter. anyone who thinks he should be in the bullpen is a m-o-r-o-n. probably ate paint chips or lived under powerlines or both

        • Zack says:

          “Wouldn’t it be funny if he came up and dominated, and then Harold, Joe, and all the other “great baseball minds” say how he needs to be moved to the starting rotation because that would fit him better.”
          Joba was always starter and the Yankees always had him as a starter, Melancon has always been a bullpen guy.

          That’s why Joba is staying in the rotation, we have like 7 guys for the bulpen and a handful more guys in the minors waiting.

        • Mike Pop says:

          It’s sarcasm man.

          • Zack says:

            No, you’re just trying to take shots at guys because thats cool to do. None of them would ever say take a reliever and make him into a starter.

            • Mike Pop says:

              Is this really happening right now? It’s joking around, like we all do with Joba and the 8th inning on this blog.

            • jsbrendog says:

              what lik take shots at harold (i assume reynolds) joe (i assume morgan) and all the “great baseball minds” like steve phillips and john kruk?? and francesa!?!?!

              everyone of those idiots has said something you would swear none of them would ever say. that’s why they are idiots. (HR maybe less so, i really like reynolds) They consistently contradict themselves, never admit they said anything different and make me gag when they try to analyze baseball.

              methinks you take it a little too personally…

              john heyman..is that you???

              • Zack says:

                name me one analyst, political, celebrity that doesnt contradict themselves or admits mistakes?

                and if you want to act like a punk and go look up my older posts be my guest, because im sure uve never made a mistake ever

                • Mike Pop says:

                  I am not trying to argue with you because this is stupid to argue over but you have been one who fails to recognize sarcasm.

                • Zack says:

                  you let the public listen to you talk for 30hours a week and see how many mistakes you make. so go get an intern at a radio show and work your way up and get your own show. because you dont have 10minutes to go read abook, look at stats, or whatever to respond to a question or a topic.

                • Mike Pop says:

                  I am not criticizing them for that kind of mistake even if I am criticizing them at all. All I said was Joba to the pen is a stupid idea and you agree with me. I don’t understand this at all. All I am saying is Joba to the pen is a really stupid idea and those guys think that is where he belongs. I am not judging them on what they say for the other 29 hours and 50 minutes per week.

                • Boy, this escalated quickly. I mean, this really got out of hand fast.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  i am. i am judging them harshly for their continually inane and more often than not shoddy analysis. so sue me. don’t like my opinion? go away.

                  other than that mike pop made a comment as a joke, i answered in kind. your misinterpretation and completly incorrect analysis led you to make a comment:

                  “No, you’re just trying to take shots at guys because thats cool to do. None of them would ever say take a reliever and make him into a starter.”

                  this is your opinion, you have no factual evidence and unlike our comments this is not a joke. fine, you’re welcome to your opinion. no one is quesitoning you. you are questioning us and attacking us with claims of reading books and other some such nonsense. dude. calm down.you think journalists make good points i think steve phillips joe morgan and the guys mentioned above are hacks and theyre analysis is stupid and their ideas show utter lack of knowledge about baseball. great whatever.

                  calm down…

                  now lets agree people who think joba should be in thepen have deep rooted emotional issues

                • jsbrendog says:



                • Mike Pop says:

                  Boy, this escalated quickly. I mean, this really got out of hand fast

                  Zack, put the gun down. We’ll play it off as a prank.

                • kSturnz says:

                  The B-Jobbers are making us fight!!! You’re playing right into them

  18. Jake H says:

    Guy is a stud.

  19. Old Ranger says:

    Back to the subject again…
    Almost every pitcher that is in the HOF or just damm good has had a (so called) flaw in their wind-up or delivery. As someone (sorry can’t remember) wrote above; not every pitcher is the same, what will ko one pitcher is good for another. Throwing a baseball is mostly remembered mechinics, once yor body accepts a type of arm action, you go with it. One may break it down a bit and clean it up, mostly on little things; your lead foot position, landing area, stride to short or long, to much effort, hooking your wrist etc., everyone is different. A few have been on to Melancon for a while now, when some never thought of him at all.
    A lot of pitchers are moved to the pen to save them from injury.Sanchez, Al-fa man two off the top. Some guys move because they throw much better; Coke, Giese, Edwar or they only have 1 or 2 pitches.. Others have always been in the BP; Cox and Melancon come to mined 1st. Look at Mo, they brought him up as a starter.

  20. Currambayankees says:

    I see this kid as MO’s heir apparent. He’s got the great work ethic to go along iwth a bulldog mentality on the mound. He also has great command and control. He has three plus pitches in his fastball, curve and change. He also comes right after hitters.

  21. [...] Hot Offseason Action – New York Yankees  / Prospect Profile: Mark Melancon [...]

  22. Todd says:

    Forget stats, mechanics, makeup, etc. The most impressive thing I read is ALL FRIGGIN STATE twice in baseball and football, and once in basketball. I don’t care what state someone does that in, that is absolutely incredible! Think about it for just two seconds and that is unbelievable. I almost question the veracity.

    • Mike A. says:

      Here’s my source for that info:


      • Todd says:

        Mike, I guess the way I wrote it came off the wrong way. I really do not believe that you would just make something up. It was more of a statement of how incredible that accomplishment is given the sports. Those three sports are skill sports that require a lot of practice and skill–as opposed to a transition from say football to track (not to diminish that either). Nonetheless, thanks for the profile and the link.

  23. [...] Hot Offseason Action – New York Yankees  / Prospect Profile: Mark Melancon [...]

  24. [...] and stuck him into some hybrid long relief/mop-up man role. Instead of recalling David Robertson or Mark Melancon, instead of simply waiting it out until it became clear that Joba wouldn’t be able to start on [...]

  25. Baseball Benz says:

    Mark Melancons’ curling of the wrist , reminds me of Bruce Sutter .

  26. MaKers328 says:

    Check out this breakdown of Melancon’s repertoire and minor league stats;


  27. [...] 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of his 17 pitches were strikes (64.7%) Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – just nine of his 23 pitches were strikes [...]

  28. [...] 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of his 17 pitches were strikes (64.7%) Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – just nine of his 23 pitches were strikes [...]

  29. [...] 9-9 GB/FB – 62 of 91 pitches were strikes (68.1%) … longest outing in exactly one month Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 21 of his 35 pitches were strikes (60%) … [...]

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