Nationals right-handed pitching prospect Brad Meyers is finally injury-free again and ready to continue his trek towards the majors after dealing with a major foot problem all of last season.
The 6-foot-6, 195-lb. hurler from Los Angeles, Calif., had a positive result in his most recent outing on Tuesday. Meyers threw four innings, allowed two runs, only one was earned on a solo homer, three hits, no walks and struck out five. He threw 58 pitches, 10 in the bullpen. His next scheduled start is Sunday with a maximum of five innings.
His career numbers in the Nationals' minor leagues are impressive, with most recent stops in Single-A Potomac and Harrisburg: a 22-11 record with a 2.72 ERA in 60 starts since 2007. He has 262 strikeouts and only 90 walks in 314 1/3 innings.
The 25-year old Meyers has had a pair of surgeries for a nagging injury in his landing foot and now feels better than he has felt on the mound in two seasons.
"I am feeling a lot better than this time last year," Meyers said. "I got to the point where I couldn't play any more. There is still some soreness in the foot here and there, but it is manageable."
Meyers has had consistency with his fastball in Florida, which is normal for most pitchers as they work back into their regular season rhythm.
"Most of my strikeouts are off fastballs," Meyers said. "During the season, the fastball velocity is any where from 88 to 94 miles per hour. I was able to throw inside a lot. I threw a couple of changeups. I love throwing my changeup after my fastball."
One thing Meyers is focusing on is throwing the changeup to right-handed hitters. He is trying to throw it inside to righties and not leave it out over the plate.
"I am working on the offspeed stuff because the fastball is my most natural pitch," Meyers said. "It is always a question in spring training: Should you work on stuff or get outs? I look to get outs."
Meyers is the first to admit he has some fine-tuning to do before beginning the season, but a lot of these issues work themselves out just by repetition of pitches every start.
"My command is not excellent, it usually comes a few games into the season," Meyers said.
There was a moment in the offseason where Meyers almost had to decide whether he would continue in baseball because of the pain in his foot. He did not know when his foot - if ever - would be back to feeling good again.
Meyers caught himself saying, "What am I going to do?" Then, the pain slowly started to go away.
"I got here feeling a lot better," he said. "I think it helped that I got started (working out) in December. I was really excited (not to feel that pain any more)."
Meyers was relieved when doctors told him the soreness he felt was normal, and not some lingering problem in the foot.
Anyone can guess a prospect's top goal is to pitch in the majors. That is a given. But Meyers has a short-term goal that is pretty much cut and dried.
"My goal right now is to get out of spring training," Meyers said. "I don't want to be in extended spring training this year. That is something that hasn't happened two of the last three seasons. I have fought off the foot problem, back spasms, shoulder tendinitis and even pneumonia.
"Last year was a mess. This year is going to be better. My foot feels good. That gives me all the confidence in the world."