Alex Kielar | June 8th, 2020
The Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin on June 10th at 7 pm ET. We continue our series of MLB draft profiles with a guy who was a two-way player at the University of Minnesota but projects to be a primary reliever or possible backend starter for the organization that drafts him: Max Meyer.
Make sure to check out our other MLB Draft profiles here.
Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Weight: 185 lbs
2018 Stats: 26 G (In relief), 43.2 IP, 2-3, 2.27 ERA, 0.870 WHIP, 54 SO, 13 BB, 16 SV
2019 Stats: 16 G (5 in relief), 76.2 IP, 5-3, 2.11 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, 87 SO, 20 BB, 2 SV
2020 Stats (Prior to cancellation): 4 G (All starts) 27.2 IP, 3-1, 1.95 ERA, 0.831 WHIP, 46 SO, 8 BB
Max Meyer was born March 12, 1999, in Woodbury, Minnesota. He attended Woodbury High School where he played baseball and hockey, he excelled at both hitting and pitching. During hockey season, he never even picked up a baseball, but hockey helped a lot with his work ethic. He committed to Minnesota during his junior season at Woodbury High and went 7-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched and hit .421 in his senior year.
Going into the 2017 draft, Meyer’s small frame caused him to fall all the way to the 34th round where his hometown Minnesota Twins selected him. He decided to honor his commitment to the University of Minnesota where he excelled on the mound as a starter and a reliever. The six-foot, 185-pound right-handed pitcher was the primary closer in his freshman season, and he transitioned to making starts when the Gophers were in need of starters in his sophomore year. While he got a number of at-bats while in college, Meyer’s future is on the mound where he showed his versatility and strong abilities. The decision to stay committed to Minnesota worked out as a great decision as he is now slotted as a probable top ten pick this year.
Check out Meyer’s college highlights:
Meyer has a very solid three-pitch mix of a strong fastball that sits around 93-97 and touches 100, a wipeout 87-91 slider that pairs very well with the fastball, and a changeup that has plus potential. A lot of scouts have said his slider is the best one in the draft with a 70 grade, and he put up very good statistics out of the pen and as a starter. Meyer attacks hitters, has great control, and is very durable to maintain the velocity on his fastball throughout the game. He used his changeup more often as a junior and it showed some flashes of being great. Batters hit just .187 against him during his college career.
The 16 saves Meyer recorded in his freshman year tied a school record and when he was asked to start in his sophomore year, he had a 2.11 ERA which was second in the Big Ten Conference. He then got an invite to play for the Collegiate National Team and was tied for the team lead in ERA with a 0.69 mark for Team USA. He is an extreme competitor and has a lot of power behind his pitches.
While he was filthy out of the bullpen and as a starter at Minnesota, there are questions about whether or not Meyer has the right size and frame to be a longtime starter. Not only that, but his vast success as a closer in college is an indication that teams will want to use him as a long-term reliever who can come in and strike batters out. But his college pitching coach Ty McDevitt stated that the concerns with his size are overstated, which I agree with.
“He’s just so adaptable,” McDevitt told CBS. “He’s shown that he’s outrageously durable and he really doesn’t have any kind of arm tiredness, soreness. At the end of the day, I think it’s crazy to think his size is a deterrent from him being a starter.”
So all in all, Meyer doesn’t have much weakness in his game. He should only improve as he pitches through the minor league system of the team who drafts him. If he doesn’t work out as a starter, his ability as a reliever is something to fall back on.
While he has been out of the league for many years now, David Cone is the closest comparison to Meyer, and he has earned this comparison by several scouts. Cone’s best pitch was also his slider which he learned from Gaylord Perry and has a similar frame at 6’1″, 180 pounds. Cone was a five-time All-Star and 1994 Cy Young Award winner over his 17-year career, so he showed how to be a successful starter for a pitcher his size.
Draft Projection: Round 1 Pick 5 Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays don’t have too great of a pitching staff at the moment and need serious work on it. They added Hyun-jin Ryu this past offseason, but I am not too high on him pitching in the AL East, and other than him they have Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, Trent Thornton (meh) among a mix of other below-average pitchers in their starting rotation. Ken Giles is still in their bullpen, but their bullpen is also nothing too good. With the stuff that Meyer has, he should be able to move fairly quickly up the Toronto farm system. The Blue Jays need certainty in the rotation and Meyer has proven to be as certain as any draft prospect.
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