Exposure is probably not the easiest commodity to come by for a young pitcher in the Washington Nationals organization. With the major league club helmed by a trio of young aces in Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, each of which could lead the rotation of any ball club, and a young 18-year-old first-round pick on the verge of Tommy John surgery, getting noticed would require one to toss gem after gem. Luckily, for first-year Potomac Nationals right-hander Alex Meyer, he has come pretty close to doing just that.
Originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player’s Draft, Meyer opted instead to attend the University of Kentucky. With the Wildcats, Meyer piled accolades on top of accolades, including an All-SEC title in his junior year. His efforts were enough to catch the attention of the Nationals, who in 2011 selected him with the 23rd overall pick in the draft.
Meyer, now 22 years old and 25 starts into his professional career, is a both a high-ceiling prospect as well as a physical presence on the mound at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds.
The scouting reports on Meyer? He throws a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90s that, when refined, could reach triple digits. The problem, however, is his delivery, which tends to over utilize his upper body. With some work, his command will come and he will routinely leave right-handers fumbling with their bats and lefties hitting weak ground ball after weak ground ball.
Meyer’s secondary pitches are less refined than his fastball, but with experience, could very well become the out pitches one would expect them to be. He has already toyed with a hard breaking ball that tops out in the mid-80s, meshes well with his arm slot and drops off the table deep in the zone. His changeup remains a work in progress.
As noted, Meyer’s biggest weaknesses are his delivery and mechanics. The over utilization of his upper half often has him throwing across his body, leaving his legs behind and suffering from inconsistent command. He has the build to become a power pitcher and time will surely breed noticeable progress. He is, after all, in his first professional season.
Potential is all well and good, but I am betting that you would probably like to know how he has fared thus far.
Meyer began the year pitching in the South Atlantic League for the Nationals’ Class A affiliate Hagerstown Suns. With the Suns, he posted a record of 7-4 with a 3.10 ERA and 107 strikeouts through 18 starts and 90 innings pitched – enough to earn a mid-July promotion to the Class A advanced Potomac Nationals.
For Meyer, the transition to Potomac seemed to be a smooth one. It was also the catalyst for a stretch of five starts that saw the young starter yield no more than one run per outing. Through his first five starts with Potomac, Meyer posted a record of 2-1 with an impressive 0.93 ERA through 29 innings pitched. In those 29 innings, he struck out 26 batters and allowed just four runs on 17 hits and three walks.
Byron Kerr of MASNsports.com was able to sit down with Meyer and speak to him about the transition from Hagerstown to Potomac.
“I felt like I have come in and done my job so far. I am just trying to put our team in the best position to win,” Meyer said. “Like I told you before, I didn’t want to change too much when I came up from Hagerstown. I feel good. I feel like my mechanics are holding up pretty well right now and I want to continue to build off of it.”
Meyer’s most recent outing, a win, saw the pitcher toss six innings of one-run ball on five hits and two walks. He struck out three. In seven starts with Potomac, Meyer is 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 32 strikeouts through 39 innings pitched.
On the year, between both ball clubs, Meyer has compiled a 10-6 record with a 2.86 ERA and 139 strikeouts through 129 innings pitched. Any attention he has received has been well earned.
Meyer has less than a handful of starts left in his first professional season. As such, the window for catching a start in Woodbridge is closing. But do not fret if you cannot get out to Pfitzner Stadium, I have a feeling his name will pop up a few times at least next year.