Mark Melancon came to the Thunder in 2008 with about as much hype as any relief pitcher in franchise history. A 6-0 record, two saves and a 1.81 ERA later and it became pretty clear that it was all justified.
All in all, Melancon lasted all of about two months at Waterfront Park before being called up to Triple-A Scranton at the end of July. Since then, he’s helped Scranton win an International League championship and got to make his big league debut in the first month of the 2009 season.
Melancon was back in the New York Yankees clubhouse in September, and I had a chance to ask him a few questions about his time with the Thunder and what he’s been up to since:
Mike Ashmore: I haven’t had a chance to see you since you were with the Thunder back in 2008…take me through what the roller coaster has been like since then.
Mark Melancon: “It’s been great. It wasn’t a great year this year, but there’s always things to improve on.”
Ashmore: Did things go the way you thought they would in terms of when you would get to the big leagues?
Melancon: “Well, this is my third time up, so I guess it’s gone well. I wish I could have stuck the first time. But there’s always a learning curve and different things that go on.”
Ashmore: When you were in Trenton and Scranton, you were under a lot of scrutiny considering your lofty prospect status. Now, you’re a big leaguer. Is the attention that you’ve received any different now that you’ve finally made it up here?
Melancon: “It’s a whole different level up here. You can’t mimic anything here in the minor leagues. It’s a whole new level, and I think that’s why it is such a big learning curve.”
Ashmore: What do you remember from that first outing at Fenway?
Melancon: “It was exhilirating. I came in, I think it was the seventh inning, and everybody’s standing up and singing ‘Sweet Caroline.’ It was an unbelievable feeling. A dream come true, for sure.”
Ashmore: You were only with the Thunder for about two months, but what do you remember about your experience there?
Melancon: “Trenton was great. The fans were great, the atmosphere was great. It’s a good team to have in the Yankees organization.”
Ashmore: There were a lot of guys on that Scranton team that you were on this year who were with you on the Thunder as well. Any thoughts on how those guys have progressed? Anyone stand out to you?
Melancon: “We seemed to have a great class coming through. It’s been fun that we’ve been able to move together.”
Ashmore: How are you viewing this opportunity in September with the Yankees? Are you viewing it as an audition for next year? An audition to pitch in the postseason?
Melancon: “Both. The biggest thing for me is to do your best every day. Long term goals are good, but I can’t worry about tomorrow when I have today to worry about. I’m just going to do my best each day. Ultimately, I hope it plays out next year that I earn myself a spot. This year, earn a spot on the playoff roster. Those things will take care of themselves if I take care of today and tomorrow. So that’s how I view that.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com