COLUMBIA — While driving past Hickman High School this afternoon, it will be hard to miss a dozen radar guns. Don’t worry, though, it’s not the world’s largest speed trap.
The reason for the radar guns is Tim Melville. The people pointing them will be Major League scouts evaluating Melville, who is scheduled to pitch at Hickman at 4:30 today for Wentzville-Holt.
Melville is listed as the nation’s No. 2 high school prospect by Baseball America. His fastball reaches 95 mph and his pitches include a knuckle-curve. In his last start, Melville threw 93 mph in the seventh inning after throwing 110 pitches.
“The first thing you will say when you see him is ‘Oh, my goodness,’” Wentzville-Holt coach Joel Adam said. “He looks like a major leaguer right now.”
Rise Magazine named the 6-foot-5 Melville the No. 1 high school baseball prospect this spring. While Melville has signed a letter of intent to play at North Carolina, many don’t expect him to throw a pitch for the Tar Heels once the MLB draft occurs in June.
“Playing pro ball is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” Melville said.
Melville’s delivery is slow and direct, and his mechanics are good for a high school pitcher, which is why scouts love him.
“When it comes out of his hand, you’re surprised how fast it comes out,” Adam said.
Growing up in Virginia, Melville cheered for the Atlanta Braves.
“My dad would always tell me to watch Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz on TV,” Melville said.
While Melville enjoyed studying the Braves, he said his favorite pitcher is Nolan Ryan.
“My favorite Nolan Ryan moment is when he got hit by Bo Jackson,” Melville said.
Ryan, bloodied by getting hit by the ball in the face, got up, threw Jackson out at first base and then finished the inning while blood ran down his chin and all over his jersey.
“He didn’t back down at all,” Melville said.
Melville takes that approach on the mound when anyone steps in.
“Whoever steps in the box, I’m going to mow them down,” Melville said.
In his last start, he struck out 13 batters.
Another highly touted prospect from Missouri, Garrison McLagan of Columbia, who has committed to play baseball for Missouri next spring, faced Melville in a baseball tournament this past fall.
“His fastball was pretty good,” McLagan said. “He wasn’t throwing as hard as he usually does, because it was a fall ball game. He locates really well.”
Pitching isn’t the only thing that Melville does well. Until Saturday, he led the St. Louis area in home runs and is batting .404 on the season.
“The first time we had a scrimmage his freshman year, he hit two home runs,” Adam said. “I went home and told my wife that this kid is going to be special. A freshman hitting 400-foot bombs.”
Melville has been special, and is getting special attention.
“It can be pretty intimidating to see 20-30 scouts,” Melville said.