KANSAS CITY -- Former Kentucky star right-hander Alex Meyer became the third former Wildcat and the second UK pitcher to play in the MLB Futures Game in the last two years, getting two outs in the eighth inning of a 17-5 USA win over the World Team, on Sunday afternoon as part of the All-Star Game festivities at the Kansas City Royals Kaufman Stadium.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound right-hander, who starred at Kentucky from 2009-11 and signed in August with the Washington Nationals as the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, got two quick outs in the eighth inning with the USA squad leading 17-5. A native of Greensburg, Ind., Meyer is the third former UK player and the second former UK pitcher in the last two years to play in the MLB Futures Game, joining left-hander James Paxton (UK, 2007-10) and Cleveland Indians slugging second baseman Jason Kipnis (UK, 2006-07).
Meyer got a first-pitch groundout on a 98 mph fastball to start the eighth inning from Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts. He then faced White Sox prospect Carlos Sanchez, running his fastball as high as 99 mph in a five-pitch at bat to the left-handed hitter. After falling behind 2-1 in the count, Meyer finished the at bat with an 87 mph slider on a 2-2 count to strikeout Sanchez.
Nursing a hefty lead, USA’s manager, former Royals star George Brett, brought in fellow highly touted New York Mets prospect Zach Wheeler to get the final out in the eighth inning, using the full pitching staff as Red Sox righty Matt Barnes pitched the ninth inning.
Meyer has had a great professional debut with the Washington Nationals class-A affiliate Hagerstown in 2012. Meyer, who signed on August, 16, 2011 as the second-highest draft pick in UK baseball history, has made 17 starts for Hagerstown, owning a 6-4 record and a 3.32 ERA. Meyer has hurled 84 innings, allowing 64 hits and 34 walks, striking out 98 and holding opponents to a .211 mark.
On July 10, 2011, during the MLB Futures Game in Arizona, Paxton and Kipnis each starred 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, annually featuring 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.
Meyer is a highlight of a era of unprecedented success for UK baseball in the professional draft. A total of 51 UK players have been drafted or signed a professional contract since the Wildcats claimed the first SEC Title in program history in 2006, an average of 7.29 players per season. Before the 2006 season, a total of 2.17 UK players were drafted or signed a professional contract per season. Meyer is the second-highest UK draft pick in school history, behind Chad Green, who was picked No. 8 overall in the 1996 MLB Draft.