Meyer fans nine in first start back

Nats prospect pitches six shutout innings after Futures break

By Andrew Pentis / Special to | July 14, 2012 8:42 PM ET

As much as Alex Meyer made an impression at last Sunday's All-Star Futures Game -- standing 6-foot-9, he made a big one -- the Nationals' prized pitching prospect left Kansas City with his own affectations.

"When I came back, I told my buddies here it makes me want to work that much harder to get to that level," Meyer said. "I was treated like a big leaguer for a day. I'm in Low-A and that's a pretty big jump to go up there and have guys packing my bags for me. The food was a little different, too. They didn't have peanut butter-and-jellies in there."

If the Nats' No. 2 prospect keeps pitching like he did in his first start back on Saturday night -- he struck out nine over six scoreless innings in Class A Hagerstown's 9-4 victory at Lexington -- there will be all kinds of people in Washington willing to cater to his every need in the years to come.

Meyer (7-4) gave up four hits and faced three batters over the minimum. Following his first win since June 12 -- the only other six-inning outing in this, his first pro season -- he said, "I can't tell you the last time I went six innings and didn't walk anybody, so it was a good night."

In fact, it was his best night. Even if his layoff was too long.

"Honestly, it's been hard. Warming up [before the game], I didn't feel the best in the 'pen. I haven't really gotten to throw too much lately. They only let me go two innings my start before the Futures Game, and then I got to throw to two batters there, so I was trying to get back into it," said the Meyer, the 23rd overall pick the 2011 Draft. "And as the game went on, I started to feel better."

Much better.

The 22-year-old right-hander had retired 10 straight when Zachary Johnson singled with two outs in the fourth. Then Meyer retired his final six batters, the last three on strikes. He estimated he threw between 80 and 85 pitches.

Despite ranking 13th in the South Atlantic League in innings pitched (90), the University of Kentucky product leads the circuit with 107 strikeouts. His 3.10 ERA isn't too shabby, either.

"I just want to continue to build consistency every single week," he said, 17 starts into his career, "and make sure every time I go out, I'm a little bit better than I was the last time."

Suns leadoff man Brian Goodwin smacked a two-run homer in the sixth, giving Meyer an 8-0 lead immediately before his exit. The Nats' No. 7 prospect has a .951 OPS through 55 games.

"Brian Goodwin has been about as good as anyone I've seen all year," Meyer said. "He's obviously a very highly touted player, but having him in center field and knowing what he's going to do for you at the plate -- he's a guy you really want to have on your team."

Legends starter Juri Perez (0-1) yielded five runs on six hits over four innings.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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