Alex Meyer thought the Nationals would call. Meyer said in Tuesday's conference call that when they picked the All-Southeastern Conference pitcher at No. 23, he was pretty excited. He even had confidence that the Nationals considered selecting him at No. 6.
"I had a pretty good idea the Nationals were interested," Meyer said. "It ended up that I was available at that spot. It is a great opportunity to play for the them. I am really looking forward to it."
What a season it was for Meyer at Kentucky. In 2011, Meyer went 7-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 110 in 101 innings. He notched wins against conference rivals Tennessee, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Florida.
Meyer said his junior year was a breakthrough season because his mechanics improved when he stopped growing. At 6-foot-9, 210 lbs., he casts an imposing figure on the mound, and once his body stabilized, his pitching has seen marked improvement.
"It has been a long process," Meyer said. "I quit growing last year and that has helped me improve into this season. I have been able to strengthen up and repeat my delivery. Now that I have settled on a consistent arm slot, my control will continue to improve."
Meyer features a "firm fastball, which has been clocked from 94 to 100 mph. He says he also offers a "really good" breaking ball which he has been able to throw whenever he wants. He also has confidence in his changeup which he said "keeps the hitters off balance and continues to get better."
Meyer is also thrilled to get a chance to play in D.C. He already knows Washington Wizards guard John Wall since they both had the same academic adviser at Kentucky, where Wall referred to him as the "tall baseball player".
He has talked to Nationals closer Drew Storen on the phone as they played for the same Indiana Bulls summer league team in their home state of Indiana. They were never on the same team since Storen was on the club that was for players one year older than Meyer, but Meyer's dad and Storen's dad knew each other well.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Meyer has the capability to be a force on the mound for the Nationals in the years to come.
"Meyer is a big, power right-handed pitcher," Rizzo said. "He comes at you in an extreme down hill angle. He holds his velocity. Even as a college junior he has a big upside in his development. He has a chance to be a front of the rotation guy."
What would Meyer think about a future where he pitched in the same rotation with guys like Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann?
"It is awesome to think about," Rizzo said. "What an exciting moment it would be to play (alongside) those guys."