The Nationals' prospect list has moved into the fast lane this offseason, thanks to the franchise's big take in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The team was able to select Anthony Rendon, Matt Purke, Brian Goodwin and pitcher Alex Meyer with their early June selections.
Meyer, at 6-foot-9 and 220 lbs., could be an imposing force in the Nationals' rotation once he gains experience and consistency.
Recently in Florida at the team's instructional camp, Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said they made a slight adjustment in Meyer's delivery, getting him to throw pitches in more of downward north-south trajectory instead of an east-west motion. Harris believes the alteration will make Meyer's pitches more deceptive and create havoc in a hitter's swing.
Coming out of the University of Kentucky, Baseball America kept a watchful eye on the big Wildcats pitcher, and national writer Aaron Fitt likes the selection by the Nationals, rating Alex Meyer as the franchise's No. 6 overall prospect.
"Talk about a guy with huge upside, that is Alex Meyer," Fitt said. "I saw him at the Houston College Classic this year. I believe the Nationals director of scouting, Kris Kline, was there also. His fastball was hitting the mid-90s and he can run it up to 97-98 mph with life, and he has an explosive breaking ball.
"It was a power knuckle-breaking ball. He called it a knuckle-curve. It really looks more like a slider most of the time. It is a mid-80s mph pitch that can just be a wipeout offering. It is one of the better breaking balls that you will see out there when he has got it going.
"He is making progress as a pitcher. There is risk with this guy. He is 6-foot-9 and like many tall pitchers there are a lot of moving parts. There is a lot going on in that delivery. It takes a lot for those guys to put it all together."
"He reminded me a lot of Andrew Brackman, who was a basketball player at N.C. State who also played baseball," Fitt said. "When Brackman was on in college, he was dominant. But again, there is a lot you've got to harness with those tall guys."
Brackman is 6-foot-10, 230-lb. right-hander who was recently made a free agent by the New York Yankees, after going 15-29 with a 5.11 ERA in 89 minor league games. He pitched in three games for the Yankees in 2011, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless frames.
"The Yankees decided to take a chance on Brackman. Like Meyer, they are both (Scott) Boras guys," Fitt said. "There is a lot of risk associated with both those guys. Who knows if that will happen with Meyer or not, but you got to love the upside, the top of the rotation upside. If not, he could be a Daniel Bard or a Jon Rauch type."