With the 117th pick in the 2022 MLB draft, the Detroit Tigers have selected right-handed pitcher Troy Melton from San Diego State.
As a 2021 draft-eligible prospect, Melton was on teams’ radars, but he wound up returning to the Aztecs for his senior season of college baseball, which wound up being the right choice for his draft stock. A change in his delivery resulted in better command and combined with more consistent velocity he was able to snag a spot in the fourth round.
The fastball is Melton’s go-to pitch, and it lives in the mid-90s with tailing action. He’s able to dial up to 97 when he needs to blow past a guy, but that’s not on tap all the time, yet. Instead, he tries to keep hitters off-balance with a mix of three off speed pitches. His slider has been his best pitch throughout college, but he added a curveball over the offseason.
Through there are reliever concerns in his profile — the feel for anything other than his slider is limited, and that pitch projects as average. By selecting Melton here, the Tigers are taking a gamble on a good frame (Melton stands at 6-foot-4-inches and has a slender pitcher’s body) and a fastball that’s hard to find in the middle rounds.
One also has to imagine the Tigers appreciate the self-awareness and coachability required to rebuild his arm action after getting positive draft feedback last season. A shortened arm path made Melton more deceptive this year, and lends credence to the idea that his changeup will continue to improve. That attitude toward making adjustments is a must in the team’s pitching development system, which has gotten somewhat assertive about tweaking players’ body movements or pitch shaping.
Despite being a fourth round selection, Melton was the Tigers’ first selection on Day 2 of this year’s draft, and only their third pick of the year. The team traded away their competitive balance pick in the package to acquire Austin Meadows and lost their third round selection as a result of the Eduardo Rodriguez signing. Their next selection is 147th overall in the fifth round.