Meyer wins Carolina League debut

Nats' No. 2 prospect fans seven over six scoreless innings

By Andrew Pentis / Special to | July 20, 2012 7:52 PM ET

Mere minutes after Alex Meyer's final start for Class A Hagerstown -- six shutout innings and a win on Sunday -- he was called into Suns manager Brian Daubach's office.

Daubach danced around the news. He said he was dissapointed that he wasn't going to be able to take advantage of Meyer's connections. After all, the 6-foot-9 University of Kentucky product had access to basketball coach John Calipari's gym keys and would not be able to sneak Daubach into Rupp Arena in Lexington, a regular stop on the South Atlanitc League schedule.

That's because Meyer, 18 starts into his pro career, was being promoted to the Carolina League, where his manager would be, oddly enough, Brian Rupp.

Start No. 19 -- his Class A Advanced debut on Friday night -- was nearly identical to his last. The Nationals' No. 2 prospect struck out seven over six shutout innings in Potomac's 8-3 win over visiting Myrtle Beach.

Meyer (1-0), selected 23rd overall in the 2011 Draft, gave up three hits and a walk but did not allow a Pelicans batter to get past second base.

"I went out there and had three pitches that were working really well," he said of his fastball-slider-changeup combo. "Lately, I have had command of all three, but the changeup is the one I am making sure is consistent. It's just confidence in throwing it like a fastball. There are times where I try to slow it down coming out of my glove."

That pitch, which has the potential to be at least average, is what will help decide how far Meyer's right arm takes him. His mid-90s fastball and slider are -- or will be -- plus offerings. That was demonstrated by the 22-year-old's South Atlantic League-leading 107 strikeouts over 90 innings.

Those were the numbers that forced his jump up a level in Washington's system.

"Just excitement," he said of Daubach's delayed reporting. "Everyone wants to be promoted. I'm blessed to have the opportunity."

And, with help, he made good on it right away. Meyer said the game-calling of catcher David Freitas, with whom he worked in the instructional league and during Spring Training, was the ultimate favor. Also welcomed: The sage pregame advice of Potomac hitting coach Marlon Anderson, who said, "It's the same game you were playing down there."

"When I was warming up -- even all day today -- I didn't think about it too much," Meyer said of the buildup to his debut. "I didn't want to change too much from what I was doing in Hagerstown."

His lineup also took the pressure off. Leadoff man Michael Taylor, who is ranked immediately behind Meyer among the Nats' top prospects, homered and doubled twice in five at-bats. Taylor also homered, doubled and plated four runs on Monday to highlight an otherwise disappointing campaign.

"The last few games I've been here, he squares up everything thrown to him," Meyer said. "I'm sure that he feels like the weight of the world is off his shoulders."

Second baseman Rick Hague and shortstop Jason Martinson also went deep for the Nats, while Major League first baseman Chad Tracy singled in three at-bats in his first rehab game.

Pelicans starter Randy Henry (5-5) was charged with all eight runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 frames.

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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