'Juices were flowing' -- Meyer takes mound

Marlins' top Draft pick throws first bullpen session

July 7th, 2020

MIAMI -- Keeping his emotions in check was the tricky part for Marlins pitching prospect Max Meyer on Tuesday during his first bullpen session as a professional ballplayer.

Everything else came naturally to the 21-year-old right-hander from the University of Minnesota, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. He threw just 20 pitches, mostly fastballs, with a few changeups mixed in.

“Definitely, the juices were flowing a little, being the first time back on the mound, especially in a Marlins uniform,” Meyer said during a Zoom call. “It was pretty special.”

The way that Meyer handled his first day on the mound was to stick to what led him to become a first-round pick.

“I just kind of did the same thing I have been doing my whole life,” he said. “Just get out there, stretch and throw normally.”

As an organization, the Marlins didn’t hesitate placing Meyer among their prospects considered closest to being big league ready. The right-hander finalized terms on his $6.7 million contract on Thursday, and he was promptly added to Miami’s 60-man player pool.

Meyer is training with a group of prospects at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. The rest of the squad has been working out at Marlins Park. In camp, Meyer is wearing No. 23, but whether his number gets called to the Majors this year depends on what transpires during the 60-game MLB season.

Many factors would have to fall in place for Meyer to make a leap to the big leagues. Basically, Miami would have to be in contention and Meyer would have to show the organization he is ready. The way Meyer is approaching his opportunity is to be prepared for anything.

“Everyone has got to be ready to go,” Meyer said. “You never know what's going to happen, especially at the time that we're in right now. All of us are getting ready to go.”

Meyer is one of five Miami pitching prospects in its Top 30 in Jupiter with a fastball that has been clocked at least at 100 mph. He joins Sixto Sanchez (the club's No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Edward Cabrera (No. 5), Jorge Guzman (No. 19) and Jordan Holloway (No. 20).

“I've been looking at the arms that we have, and I feel like the ball just flies out of these guys' hands,” Meyer said. “It's unbelievable, honestly. There's definitely going to be some competition."

In time, Meyer could be throwing bullpen sessions next to the likes of Sanchez and Cabrera, ranked No. 22 and No. 85, respectively, among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects.

“Right now, one guy goes at a time in the bullpens,” Meyer said. “But there's definitely some good competition to throw against.”

Marlins fans and the front office envision the day when all three are battling it out for the spots at the top of their rotation. For now, the prospects are going through light drills and easing into facing hitters.

Among the position players working out in Jupiter is outfielder JJ Bleday, the No. 4 overall pick in 2019. Like Meyer, Bleday went through the transition of being a first-round Draft pick after completing his junior season of college.

“Just be yourself,” Bleday said of the advice he would give Meyer. “Don't change because someone wants you to. You know yourself better than anyone. Just stick to what you have been doing, and just develop relationships along the way.”

Bleday observed Meyer’s bullpen session on Tuesday, and he even asked to step into the box to view a few pitches, without attempting to swing.

“He’s very athletic on the mound,” Bleday said. “That's the first thing that I noticed, right off the bat -- how athletic he is. He's got confident body movements. He pounds the zone. He's pretty calm, cool, collected out on the mound.”

As he gets more into a routine, Meyer eventually will face hitters, and he looks forward to Bleday standing in ready to hit.

“It's going to be fun facing him,” Meyer said. "He looks good in the box. Definitely a good presence. It's going to be fun.”