Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 12/26/12
MARK MELANCON RIGHT HANDED PITCHER Born: March 28, 1985 Height: 6’2″ Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right Drafted: 9th Round, 284th overall pick, 2006 (Yankees) How Acquired: Trade from Red Sox College: University of Arizona Agent: SFX WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES Melancon went into 2003 as a potential first round pick, but was overworked when his college team was short on pitching and having a tough year, and he ended up with an elbow strain.  The Yankees picked him in the ninth round and paid him well over slot to sign.  At the time, he threw a 92-95 mph fastball and a 12-to-6 power curve that served as his out pitch.  As a pro, he’s been strictly a reliever.  He throws a four-seamer and a cutter, both of which average around 93 and top out at 95-96.  The curve remains his best pitch and he occasionally throws a change.  He’s a strong groundball pitcher, with a 53.8% groundball rate for his career.  He’s been better against right-handed batters than left-handed, holding the former to a 226/293/336 line while the latter have hit 250/342/402 against him.  He throws with a high-effort delivery that’s led to elbow issues.  The Pirates acquired him, along with Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. 2006 A-:  0-1-2, 3.52 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.2 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 Melancon gave up a lot of hits in his debut, but had excellent walk and K rates.  After the season, he went to the Hawaii Winter Baseball League and injured his elbow after four outings.  He ended up having Tommy John surgery. 2007 Did not play Melancon missed the entire season following the elbow surgery.  Despite that, Baseball America rated him the Yankees’ 11th best prospect after the season, due in part to a good showing in instructional league. 2008 A+:  1-0-0, 2.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 25.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.1 K/9 AA:  6-0-2, 1.81 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 49.2 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9 AAA:  1-1-1, 2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 9.9 K/9 On his return from Tommy John, Melancon advanced rapidly through the Yankees’ system, pitching better at each level. 2009 AAA:  4-0-3, 2.89 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 53.0 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.2 K/9 MLB:  0-1-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 5.5 BB/9, 5.5 K/9 Melancon continued to pitch well in AAA.  The Yankees called him up several times during the season, but he never stayed long.  He had some problems locating his fastball and falling behind in counts. 2010 AAA (NYY):  6-1-6, 3.67 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 5.0 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 AAA (Hou):  1-0-1, 0.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 4.2 K/9 MLB (NYY):  0-0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 4.0 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 6.8 K/9 MLB (Hou):  2-0-0, 3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 4.2 BB/9, 9.9 K/9 The Yankees left Melancon in AAA for most of the first four months and he didn’t pitch well, struggling with his control and allowing more than a hit per inning.  New York finally sent him to Houston in a deadline deal for Lance Berkman.  After the trade, Melancon spent most of his time in the majors and pitched much better, with a high K rate, although he continued to walk too many. 2011 MLB:  8-4-20, 2.78 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 8.0 K/9 Melancon had a strong season for last-place Houston, taking over as closer about a month into the season when Brandon Lyon got hurt.  The Astros traded him to Boston after the season for Jed Lowrie, which shows that the Red Sox valued him highly as Lowrie was a good trade piece. 2012 AAA:  0-0-11, 0.83 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 11.2 K/9 MLB:  0-2-1, 6.20 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 45.0 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 8.2 K/9 Melancon got off to a miserable start for the Red Sox, posting a 49.50 ERA in four April outings.  The Sox, playing as they do under intense scrutiny from their fans and the media, sent him to AAA late in the month.  He dominated there and returned to Boston in mid-June, spending the rest of the season mainly in a mop up role as Boston’s season went south in a hurry.  He finished with a dismal ERA, although it was just 4.19 after his recall.  All of his other numbers were about the same as 2011, though, except for his HR rate, which nearly tripled.  Five of the eight he allowed came in those first four games, including three in the last inning he pitched before being sent to the minors.  His xFIP on the season was 3.45. Even before the trade with Boston was completed, part of the Pirates’ fandom and certain muckraking elements of the Pittsburgh media were already blasting the acquisition of Melancon due to his ERA.  Never mind, of course, that Hanrahan had an ERA of 7.71 when the Pirates acquired him.  Possibly even more than with Hanrahan, there’s every reason to expect Melancon to bounce back from his difficult 2012 season (or, more accurately, the four disastrous outings he had in April).  He doesn’t quite have Hanrahan’s ceiling, but he probably has close to an even chance of pitching as well as, or better than, Hanrahan in 2013.  Melancon will probably take over setup duties, with Jason Grilli becoming the closer. STATS Baseball Reference–Majors Baseball Reference–Minors Fangraphs MLB.com MiLB.com CONTRACT INFORMATION 2009: $400,000 2011: $421,000 2012: $521,000 2013: Major League Minimum PLAYER INFORMATION Signing Bonus: $600,000 MiLB Debut: 2006 MLB Debut: 4/26/2009 MiLB FA Eligible: N/A MLB FA Eligible: 2017 Rule 5 Eligible: N/A Added to 40-Man: 4/25/09 Options Remaining: 0 (USED:  2009, 2010, 2012) MLB Service Time: 2.098 TRANSACTIONS June 4, 2003: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 30th round, 901st overall pick. June 6, 2006: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 9th round, 284th overall pick; signed on August 9. November 14, 2003: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser to the Minnesota Twins for A.J. Pierzynski and cash. April 25, 2009: Contract purchased by the New York Yankees. July 31, 2010: Traded by the New York Yankees with Jimmy Paredes to the Houston Astros for Lance Berkman and cash. December 14, 2011: Traded by the Houston Astros to the Boston Red Sox for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland. December 26, 2012: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt.
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