Though Alex Meyer was considered one of the top prep school pitchers and the 25th ranked prospect overall by Baseball America heading into the 2008 MLB Draft, he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th Round, 622nd overall because of concerns over signability since he was being advised by Scott Boras and had a commitment to the University of Kentucky. The Red Sox offered the high school pitcher described in a pre-Draft MLB.com profile as having a "projectable frame" and being a "typical high risk, high reward prep arm with the payoff being a terrific starter down the road," what was reportedly a $2M dollar bonus which Meyer turned down to attend Kentucky.
The 6'7' right-hander the Red Sox drafted but failed to sign grew two inches to 6'9'' while in college and went 13-12 over three seasons pitching for the Wildcats, striking out 253 batters (10.77 K/9) in 211.1 innings. In his Junior year, in 2011, Meyer was (7-5) in 14 starts with 46 walks (4.09 BB/9) and 110 K's (9.77 K/9) in 101.1 IP.
In a teleconference with reporters after the Washington Nationals drafted Meyer 23rd overall this past June, the pitcher was asked about the decision he'd made back in 2008 which he said, "Mostly was in my parents' hands at that point, letting them try to help me out with the whole process, and really, it was moreso their decision than anything, which at the time, I was ready for whatever they thought, but going to college, I would say benefited me, it was the best decision that I could have made at the time, and even looking up today, obviously I feel like it worked out for me so far."
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo described Meyer on the night of the draft as a, "... big power right-handed pitcher," who could potentially have, "three plus pitches in the future," a high 90's fastball, "a hard wicked wipeout slider," as Rizzo put it and changeup that Nats' Scouting Director Kris Kline said is, "... not a pitch that he uses very often at this point, but it's going to be his third pitch, but it has a chance to be an above-average weapon for him."
"He's a guy that we feel that even as a college junior," the Nats' GM explained, "has a big upside left in his development, and a guy that we see has a chance to be a front of the rotation guy." Mr. Kline, asked for a comparison, projected that Meyer, the Nats' 2nd 1st Round pick after they selected Rice 3B Anthony Rendon 6th overall, "has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Worst-case scenario, you've got a [Daniel] Bard-type reliever with a better slider and somebody that you bring in at the back of your bullpen that can dominate."
Roy Clark, who served as the Atlanta Braves' Director of Scouting before joining Mike Rizzo's front office in Washington, said he'd been following Meyer for years, and he seemed to agree with the decision the pitcher made to attend college rather than sign with the Red Sox in 2008.
"We've been tracking him since he was a high school junior," Mr. Clark said, "and he wasn't ready, he wasn't physically or mentally ready to go out then. He scuffled the first couple of years, but this year, he really started putting it together real well in the Fall, and this Spring he's been very good, and his last four or five starts were against some of the better or top college teams in the country, Vanderbilt, Florida, I believe LSU, and it was total dominance. Totally dominant. We think he's coming into his own and feel very fortunate to have gotten him."
The Nationals took a chance and drafted Rendon with their first 1st Round pick even though Mr. Clark said the Nats had considered taking Meyer, and then waited until their second selection came up at no. 23 before taking the right-hander. A jump from 622nd in 2008 to 23rd overall this year likely won't benefit the right-hander financially, however.
According to Baseball America's Jim Callis, who spoke to MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr recently for an article on the Nats' 2011 picks entitled, "Callis: All looks good with top picks except for Purke", Meyer will likely only see a slight increase in his bonus between what Boston offered then and what he'll get now. "Meyer turned down $2 million out of high school," MASNSports.com's Mr. Kerr writes, "Callis believes Boras will get his client at least that number or perhaps $2.1 million." The Red Sox had a chance to draft Meyer again since they had the 19th pick this year, but they went with UConn right-hander Matt Barnes and Meyer fell to the Nats. Washington has until Monday night at 11:59 pm EDT to sign Meyer.