With a smile on his face, Tigers’ pitching prospect continues to upgrade his talent in West Michigan

Troy Melton

West Michigan Whitecaps' Troy Melton pitching during a game against the South Bend Cubs on Aug. 16, 2023 (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)


COMSTOCK PARK, MI -- As Tom Selleck said in the 1993 film Mr. Baseball, “Baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun.”

That mindset certainly flows through West Michigan Whitecaps pitcher, Troy Melton.

Do not let his focused look on the mound fool you, the 22-year-old enjoys coming to the ballpark, even on days when is not scheduled to appear. Melton’s positivity around the game shows in his support for teammates, both past and present.

“I hope everyone gets called up,” Melton confirmed during an interview last week. “I hope everybody makes it to the big leagues and pitches for 20 years. I just hope everybody is doing well, and as an organization, we’re in a good spot, which is all I can really ask for.”

In the midst of his first full professional season, Melton says the transition from playing college ball at San Diego State to the Detroit Tigers’ system has been relatively easy, for one particular reason.

“It’s easier than college, to be honest,” Melton chuckled. “No class, show up and play baseball with your friends, and leave. I’m living the life.”

Troy Melton

Melton has had five starts in West Michigan where he has pitching five or more innings (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)

Melton is currently on a ‘Caps pitching staff that features the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect, Jackson Jobe, but also says the team’s rotation and bullpen are solid.

“I think our whole staff has really good stuff,” Detroit’s No. 15 prospect said. “Watching a guy like Jobe, though is fun, because he has crazy stuff. It’s really cool to be around of a lot talent, I think we have a lot of talent on this team.”

The former 2022 fourth-round pick came to West Michigan back in May after making seven starts with Single-A Lakeland. Melton had been with the Flying Tigers since making the jump to professional baseball last season after a successful career with the Aztecs, where he was the Mountain West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year last season. Melton made nine appearances in Lakeland, all of them starts, posting a 2.84 earned run average, striking out 38 in 31.2 innings.

An odd stat that traveled with Melton to the Whitecaps is that, through his first 12 pro starts, including three with the ‘Caps, the Newport Beach, California native was never awarded a decision. That changed on June 15, when Melton’s five shutout innings against the Lake County Captains helped lead the team to an 11-0 win.

That was in the middle of a dominant stretch of work for Melton. In June, the former Anchorage Glacier Pilot made four starts, giving up just one run in 18 innings of work, including a stretch of 17 consecutive innings where Melton did not give up a run. It is performances like that where Melton’s confidence is noticeable.

“I think I’m in a good spot with my pitches, throwing strikes,” he confirmed. “That makes things easier, to be honest. Also, trying to get guys out as quickly as possible, and that’s kind of been working out for me for the past couple of weeks.”

The strikeouts continued to pile up for Melton. Until his most recent start against South Bend last Wednesday, the righty had registered at least two K’s in each of his previous 11 outings, with a season-high eight coming in a loss to the Cubs back on July 21.

Troy Melton

Melton has also posted shutouts in six starts with the 'Caps this season (Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps)

While he has a solid fastball, averaging in the mid to high-90s, Melton’s focus is on bettering his off-speed pitches to keep hitters guessing.

“I added a cutter at the beginning of this year. I’ve been using it a lot, and it has been a good pitch for me. I’ve been working with breaking ball variations as well. A little bit of change here and there, but the core remains the same.”

Overall, Melton says help from the pitching coaches within the organization, all the way from the Tigers’ Director of Pitching, Gabe Revis, on down has helped him make strides as a pro.

“Everybody’s been really good with me, and have had a lot to offer me. Helping with learning to pitch [at this level] has been also a big thing for me.”

Through 12 starts in West Michigan, Melton is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA, leading all pitchers with at least 10 or more starts this season. He has 51 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched, surrendering just 15 walks. With just a few weeks left in the regular season, and the Whitecaps currently holding first place in the Midwest League East, he says personal growth is important, but making the playoffs is also at the front of his mind.

“That’s why you play, you want to win championships. It’s been a while for me since I’ve been on a team that’s been in a push late in the season like this. It’s super fun being on a team with a fun group of guys and a lot of talent. It makes the game so much more fun when you show up to the yard, and compete.”

The Whitecaps are on the road this week, beginning a six-game series against the Peoria Chiefs on Tuesday night, with Melton scheduled to start on Saturday.

Read more

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