Natchez High star leaves mark on summer circuit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jatavis Melton’s mother Candice Dobbins knew her son would always be a baseball player.

Ever since she put a ball in his hand when he was 3 years old, Melton has yet to put that ball down.

The Natchez High School rising senior spent part of his summer in Cartersville, Ga., where he competed with the Fort Bend Texans at the 15th annual 17-and-under WWBA National Championship.

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The showcase is a wooden bat league that features top prospects from across the country for the 2018 class.

“It went good. It was a lot more competition than what I am used to, but I’m glad I went up there,” Melton said. “I learned a lot from being up there.”

Melton played in five games for the Texans, where he recorded three hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run.

“Everyone threw hard. Everyone threw 90-plus,” Melton said. “I haven’t seen that a lot so I had to get used to it. I adjusted, and I hit a bomb.”

Melton said the solo blast was his first over-the-fence home run since he entered high school. He also added a triple during the week’s action.

“It feels good,” Melton said of the long ball. “ I was surprised, to be honest, but I kept my hands inside and hit it hard.”

But the Bulldog star didn’t stop there, showcasing his speed on the base paths with three stolen bases, he said. Melton swiped 47 bases his junior year at Natchez.

The 5-foot-10, 170 pounder played a variety of roles for the Texans, slotting in at shortstop, pitcher and center field.

But it’s in center where Melton thinks his future lies.

“I think I would play outfield because of my speed, but I’ll play anywhere,” he said.

Melton said he has spoken to several college scouts and has taken note to the positive feedback.

“Talking to (scouts) they’re telling me to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I know I’m being scouted, and they’re telling me I can play at the next level and to just be patient.”

As for his upcoming senior campaign at Natchez, Melton is looking forward to the potential of the upcoming season. The Bulldogs lineup featured up to six 8th and 9th graders in any given game during its 2016 postseason appearance.

“I’m going to make sure we’re going to be alright,” he said. “Those guys last year may have been a little spooked because they were young, but they’re going to be good this year. I’m going to make sure of that.”

Head coach Dan Smith, who has guided the Bulldogs to three straight playoff berths in his three seasons, this year will lead Natchez.

“He’s really behind us,” Melton said. “I love him to death.”

In the meantime, Melton still remains with a baseball in his hand, spending the remainder of his summer playing with the Dixie Pre-Majors Purple Sox. The Purple Sox are traveling this weekend to West Monroe to compete in the state tournament.

“I played with them last year, and I think we can go all the way,” Melton said. “We have a better team this year. We just have to play together.”