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December 31, 2006

by Fabian

Mark Melancon, RHP, 21
Previously Ranked:
What Others Say:
Pinstripes Plus N/R, Baseball America 9th, John Sickels 13th (C+)

Physical Ability: Mark Melancon is, by most accounts, is the leading in-house candidate to replace Mariano Rivera. This title falls on Melancon’s shoulders because of his low to mid 90s fastball and 12-to-6 curveball. Some impressive movement accompanies the impressive fastball velocity. This allows Melancon to attach any part of the strike zone. Melancon also has solid command and control of both pitches. In addition to those two standout offerings, Melancon has dabbled with a sinking fastball as well as a change-up. Neither has proven to be a quality offering at this point.

What Happened in ’06: Despite being the top-ranked draft eligible reliever prior to the opening of the college baseball season, Melancon fell to the Yankees. The reason for his draft day drop was concern about the health of his elbow. Melancon’s violent delivery did not help matters. In the end, these concerns proved to be valid as Melancon had to undergo Tommy John surgery following his exit from the Hawaiian Baseball League. Prior to going under the knife, Melancon was a late season addition for the NYPL champion Staten Island Yankees. He seemed to be working off the rust during his regular season appearances, as he was lights out during the postseason.

What Lies Ahead: Tommy John surgery is not much of a concern these days, so I’m not worried about Melancon undergoing the procedure. Furthermore, Melancon has been widely lauded for his makeup, which increases my faith in his being able to successfully complete the rehabilitation process. Melancon should be expected back for the 2008 season and depending on how well he adjusts, he may even see big league playing time that very year.

Grade: Melancon has the mixture of outstanding stuff and excellent makeup that allows the future closer talk to seem reasonable. While he may be an afterthought for this upcoming season, he figures to play a big role for the Yankee organization in 2008. C+

Austin Jackson #13