Monday, June 6, 2011
Washington Nationals select UK pitcher
with first-round pick in 2011 MLB draft
University of Kentucky junior right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer became the highest drafted Kentucky baseball player since 2001 after the Washington Nationals selected him with the No. 23 pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft Monday night.
“Obviously they are a team on the rise with the prospects they have selected in the last few years,” said Meyer, pointing to 2009 No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg, 2010 No. 1 pick Bryce Harper and 2011 No. 6 pick Anthony Rendon.
The Nationals were rumored to have interest in selecting Meyer with their first pick in the draft at No. 6, but the team held off and was still able to obtain him with its second pick.
“I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen,” Meyer said. “I had heard I might go No. 6, but I knew that was kind of a stretch.”
Meyer is the sixth player from a Kentucky high school or college to be selected in the first round in the last decade and is the highest drafted Kentucky player since the Houston Astros picked St. Xavier High School alum Chris Burke with the No. 10 pick in 2001.
Meyer was 7-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 starts for UK in 2011 and led the Southeastern Conference with 110 strikeouts, four complete games and two shutouts. Meyer struggled during his first two seasons at UK, going 6-7 with a 7.24 ERA in 15 games, after turning down a $2-million singing bonus from the Red Sox out of high school.
But something seemed to click for Meyer early in his junior season as he cashed in on the promise that had him ranked among the top freshmen in the country in 2008.
“This is what I went to college for,” Meyer said of his improvements. “I wanted to come to college to develop my game.”
Meyer has until Aug. 15 to decide whether to sign with the Nationals, but all signs point to him leaving school to begin a professional career. During a conference call following his selection, Meyer said if all goes according to plan he will be a Washington National.
“This is what it was all for,” Meyer said. “I couldn’t be happier. I can’t put into words what I feel right now.”
Story and photos by Jon Hale.
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For more about Alex Meyer you can read the KyForward feature “UK pitcher finds stride as draft looms.”