'Absolutely a starter': Meyer to Marlins at No. 3

June 11th, 2020

MIAMI -- The question of who will be the Marlins’ ace of the future just became more interesting, because a hard-throwing right-hander has now joined the mix.

On Wednesday night, the Marlins selected University of Minnesota's Max Meyer with the third overall pick. The 21-year-old from Woodbury, Minn., could immediately challenge Sixto Sanchez for the organization’s No. 1 prospect spot. Sanchez ranks 22nd on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list.

The Marlins are wasting little time getting Meyer under contract. According to a source, the right-hander has already agreed to a deal with Miami that is pending completion of his physical.

"That's the most athletic college pitcher in this Draft, with the most electric stuff, and he's just about Major League-ready," Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said. “The pick was made almost right out of the chute this year. He was that good.”

Despite Meyer being considered undersized at 6-foot, 185 pounds, the Marlins were overwhelmed by his pure stuff. At a tournament, Meyer had a fastball top at 102 mph. He also has, in the eyes of the organization, the best slider in the Draft.

Because of his smaller stature, the Marlins put Meyer in the category with the likes of Reds right-hander Sonny Gray (listed at 5-foot-10) and former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (5-foot-11).

The Marlins opted for Meyer over Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy, who was connected to the Marlins in many mock Drafts. Lacy was taken by the Royals at No. 4.

Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter reached out to Meyer, via Zoom, to welcome him into the organization.

“I had some other teams that I thought maybe I was going to, for sure,” Meyer said. “But then the Marlins called my agent, and he let me know. We were like, 'Let's make a deal.' And it happened.”

The slot value for the third pick is $7,221,200.

The Marlins have been heavily evaluating Meyer for years, and they saw him as a dominant closer a few years ago for Team USA, as well as at Minnesota.

With the Marlins, the plan is for him to start.

“Absolutely a starter,” Svihlik said. “I wouldn't have pulled him off the board if I didn't think he was a starter. He's never given us a reason not to.”

Meyer is the highest Minnesota player taken since Paul Molitor also went third overall in 1977 to the Brewers.

The reality of being taken third overall has yet to sink in for Meyer.

“Not right now,” he said about 90 minutes after being selected. “We're kind of hanging out, celebrating a little bit. But definitely, when my head hits the pillow tonight, that's when it's going to sink in. I've been playing this game my whole life. It's been my dream ever since I was a little kid, and it came true tonight. Very special moment.”

Meyer is another projectable front-of-the-rotation candidate. He's also the third pitcher in the last five years to be taken by the Marlins in the first round. In 2016, they selected Braxton Garrett (seventh overall), and in 2017 they took Trevor Rogers (13th overall).

Five of the Marlins’ Top 10 prospects are pitchers -- Sanchez (one), Edward Cabrera (five), Garrett (six), Rogers (eight) and Nick Neidert (10). Now, Meyer fits into the picture.

“We know that you win with pitching,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “That's always been a philosophy here, you win with pitching. In Max Meyer, we feel like we got the best college pitcher in the Draft. Two plus, plus pitches. Up to 102. One of the best sliders in the Draft. Some of our scouts said, 'The best slider I've ever seen.'”

After not taking a pitcher until the fifth round in each of the past two Drafts, Svihlik noted that pitching is a priority this year.

“It was super important,” Svihlik said.

Before the NCAA cancelled all sports in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Meyer made four starts for the Gophers in 2020, going 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. In 2019, the right-hander had a 2.11 ERA in 76 2/3 innings.

“We watched each of his four starts,” Svihlik said. “We had people there watching him. This wasn't a new name. He was high enough on that board that we made sure our best scouts were there.”

The Draft continues today with Rounds 2-5. The MLB Network preview show begins at 4 p.m. ET, with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on the Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.

“[The Draft] is pitching heavy, so stay tuned,” Svihlik said. “You take what the Draft is offering you.”