LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky star righty Alex Meyer worked a shutout, four-pitch fifth inning for Team USA in his second career MLB Futures Game appearance, on Sunday as the opening event of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game festivities at the Minnesota Twins Target Field.
A native of Greensburg, Ind., Meyer made his second career MLB Futures Game appearance and his first since 2012. The triple-A International League leader in strikeouts, Meyer is the third former UK player to play in the MLB Futures Game in the last four years, joining left-hander James Paxton (2007-10) and Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (2006-07), who played in the 2011 game in Arizona.
A 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, Meyer got Seattle Mariners prospect Gabby Guerrero to line out to leftfield to open the fifth inning, before Oakland Athletics prospect Renato Nunez singled to left. A first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Meyer then fired a 97 mph fastball to induce an inning-ending double play from Texas Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, ending his appearance at just four pitches, with each offering coming in at least at 97 mph.
In his two career MLB Futures Game appearances, Meyer has worked 1.2 shutout innings, retiring Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Sanchez in the 2012 appearance in Kansas City as a member of the Washington Nationals. Meyer, ranked as the No. 45 prospect in baseball entering the 2014 season by Baseball America, was traded during the 2013 offseason to the Twins in exchange for centerfielder Denard Span.
In his 18 triple-A starts in 2014, Meyer has a 5-4 record and a 3.43 ERA in 89.1 innings, leading the International League with 103 strikeouts. Meyer has allowed just 75 hits and a .230 opponent average, walking 43. Over his last three starts, Meyer has worked 18 innings, allowing just four runs and striking out 20. While pitching with the Rochester Red Wings in triple-A, Meyer is teamed with former UK star southpaw Logan Darnell, who has a 3.48 ERA in 16 starts. Darnell made his MLB debut earlier in 2014 with the Twins, working three hitless innings with a strikeout. In his three-year minor league career, Meyer has 19 wins and a 3.07 ERA in 59 starts, striking out 342 in 296 innings.
On July 10, 2011, during the MLB Futures Game in Arizona, Paxton and Kipnis each played in the game at Chase Field. Paxton pitched a shutout frame for the World Team and Kipnis launched a solo homer in the first inning of the game. In 2011, the two former UK standouts were the first Kentucky players in program history to play in the MLB Futures Game, which since 1999 has annually featured the top prospects in minor league baseball at the site of the MLB All-Star Game.
Meyer completed his decorated UK career in 2011 as a second-team All-Southeastern Conference honoree. He led UK in starts (14), wins (seven), ERA (2.94), complete games (four), complete-game shutouts (two), innings pitched (101), strikeouts (110) and opponent average (.222). A 20th-round pick out of high school in 2008 as an Aflac All-American, Meyer led the SEC in strikeouts, strikeouts looking (48), innings pitched per game (7.21), complete games and complete game shutouts. Meyer’s 110 strikeouts in 2011 rank eighth-best in UK history. In his 211.1 career innings pitched, Meyer had 253 strikeouts, fifth-most in UK annals.
After six Kentucky players were drafted or signed a professional contact in 2014, UK has now had a program-record 39 players drafted or sign a pro contract in the six-year tenure of the Gary Henderson era. Since Henderson and UK recruiting coordinator Brad Bohannon arrived on campus in 2004, UK has had a record 61 players drafted or sign a professional contract.