Despite being saddled with a loss, Alex Meyer pitched six strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits and no walks while striking out seven in the Potomac Nationals’ 7-0 loss to the Winston-Salem Dash Sunday afternoon. The young 22-year-old right-hander’s performance since being promoted to Potomac has been stellar, good enough for a record of 2-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 26 strikeouts through 29 innings pitched. In fact, his entire body of work as a first-year professional has more than earned him a spotlight on Positive Mental Natitude. Unfortunately, he will have to wait another week or so.
Yesterday, the Syracuse Chiefs’ left-hander Zach Duke was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 6-12. If that name sounds familiar, it is probably because he is a former major league All-Star with nearly 200 appearances under his belt.
Duke, the third Chief to win an International League weekly award this year alongside outfielder Corey Brown (Player of the Week, May 21-27) and right-hander Tanner Roark (Pitcher of the Week, July 23-29), was awarded the honors after earning a win in both of his starts last week.
On August 6, Duke pitched six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out a season-high eight batters. Five days later, Duke pitched a complete-game shutout in Lehigh Valley, the first by a Syracuse pitcher since 2009. Through nine innings, Duke gave up just three hits while walking none and striking out seven to earn his league-leading 13th win.
In March, Duke signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals and was assigned to the Nationals’ Class AAA affiliate. After 23 starts, Duke has posted a record of 13-5 with a 3.57 ERA through 143.2 innings pitched.
The once highly touted Pittsburgh Pirates prospect was originally drafted in 2001 in the 20th round of the MLB First-Year Player’s Draft. Working through Pittsburgh’s farm system, Duke received a number of accolades, including being named Pitcher of the Year for both the Pirates organization and the Carolina League in 2004 after posting a record of 15-6 with a 1.46 ERA through 148.1 innings pitched.
He made his major league debut with the Pirates a year later in 2005 and earned National League Rookie of the Year considerations after going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA through 84.2 innings pitched. Since then, things seemed to move south for the pitcher as his ERA continued north.
Arizona brought a change of scenery for Duke in 2011, but his season was cut short by a broken hand that limited the left-hander to just 21 appearances and a 3-4 record with a 4.93 ERA. The Diamondbacks did not exercise their option for 2012.
Prior to the start of the 2012 season, the Houston Astros, who had signed the pitcher before spring training, released him after four sub-par starts.
Duke, who is comparable to Atlanta Braves lefty Paul Maholm, has never been a power pitcher and is instead recognized for his control. He throws a fastball in the high 80s, a changeup in the high 70s and two breaking pitches – a curve in the low 70s and a slider in the low 80s.
It would seem that the Nationals have made a great signing, picking up an innings-eater who is likely to receive a September call-up and provide much-needed long relief to an overworked bullpen before a potential playoff run.