'I'm a competitor': Draft prospect Meyer flashes elite stuff at NHSI
Top prep arm in '23 class racks up 10 K's across complete game
CARY, N.C. -- It wasn’t the result he or his Jesuit HS teammates hoped for when coming across the country from Oregon to the National High School Invitational, but even in a 3-1 defeat to Calvary Christian, Noble Meyer knew how well he and his squad had competed.
“This was a super highly anticipated game,” Meyer said. “We’ve been prepping for it all year, we’ve been really looking forward to it. I’m just glad I had my family, the team, behind me. They supported me the whole game, the catcher was outstanding. I think it’s a big positive coming away from this game.”
Considered to be the top prep arm in the 2023 class, Meyer, whom MLB Pipeline ranked No. 16 on its Top 100 in December, showed exactly why the game against Florida’s Calvary Christian -- and its own coveted arm in left-hander Hunter Dietz -- was so highly anticipated. The 6-foot-5 righty went all seven innings and allowed just two hits, walking two and striking out 10. All three runs Calvary Christian scored were unearned.
Meyer was consistently up to 95-96 mph with his fastball and was still touching the mid-90s in his final inning of work. He threw both his slider and curve very effectively, with Calvary picking up just two hits all game, one a bunt single.
“I feel everything was working,” Meyer said. “The fastball may have been a little low on command, but it had the life I really wanted it to have. It worked really well up in the zone and played well off of the curve and slider. I think the breaking balls were a huge factor in this game, lots of stolen strikes and lots of bad swings off of it.”
The slightly slower curve is a newer offering in Meyer’s arsenal, as he spent the summer on the showcase circuit displaying a fastball-slider-changeup combination. The Oregon recruit only threw two changeups Wednesday, but his ability to change looks with the two different breaking balls made it possible for him to keep that in his back pocket.
The data backs up just how good it was. Meyer threw 26 breaking pitches with an RPM north of 3,000.
“The curve is always something I wanted to throw,” Meyer said about the development of the new pitch. “I used to throw it when I was younger, and then I kind of lowered my arm slot and found the slider worked better. But recently, my arm slot raised a bit. I used [the curveball] early in counts to steal strikes -- sometimes with two strikes, get it low, look for a chase.”
Dietz, for his part, kept pace. The Arkansas recruit did walk four, but he pitched into the sixth, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out seven. The No. 73 Draft prospect didn’t have the same pure stuff as Meyer, with a fastball that largely was in the 88- to 91-mph range, combined with an upper-80s breaking ball to keep Jesuit guessing. Landen Maroudis, who many scouts think is the best arm on a deep staff, came in to throw the final two innings and was up to 94 mph.
With little margin for error, Meyer knew he had to bring his "A" game to the National Training Complex. He showed a mean competitive streak after leaving the bases loaded in the third, an inning in which Calvary tried to bunt three times, when he struck out the side in a very quick fourth.
“They got bases loaded early in that inning,” Meyer said. “I came back out and I know their only hit was a bunt single. They haven’t pieced me up yet, so I have full confidence coming back out. I think, absolutely, that’s a statement inning, really a tone-setter.
“I feel like I really showed that I’m a competitor and that’s something I know every team is looking for. But when I’m up there, I really zone them out and I’m focused on winning the game.”
Top individual performances
Ralphy Velazquez from Huntington Beach HS (Calif.) came into the NHSI as one of the more intriguing hitters in the tournament and the Arizona State recruit didn’t disappoint. The left-handed hitter went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a double hit the other way, to help Huntington Beach advance by beating Basha HS (Chandler, Ariz.), 6-3.
The main question with Velazquez is what position he’ll play in the future. He caught Wednesday and one scouting director felt the jury is still out, but thought he moved better than expected given his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame. The scout felt he has a shot to at least get sent out as a backstop, reminding some of Yasmani Grandal in his high school days.
Aidan Knaak went the distance for Bishop Verot HS (Fort Myers, Fla.), beating Eric Bitonti (No. 55 Draft prospect) and Aquinas HS (San Bernadino, Calif.), 4-1. Knaak, committed to Clemson, filled the zone with a fastball that topped out at 93 mph and a spike curve that sat at 77-80 mph. He also showed off what could be a pretty solid changeup, using one to fool Bitonti for a strikeout in the first inning. The right-hander gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out nine.
JSerra Catholic’s Trent Caraway (No. 59 Draft prospect) -- one of the highest-ranked hitters in Cary -- went 2-for-4, with a run scored and a stolen base. Even his outs were loud, as he recorded some of the highest exit velocities of the day as JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) beat Houston County HS (Warner Robins, Ga.), 4-3.
This is, after all, a team tournament with a champion crowned, so let’s take a minute to take a look at the other winners.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came when Bishop Rice out of Chicago came down from the cold weather and beat Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.), 5-0, behind Cole Van Assen’s complete-game shutout. … Collin Clarke struck out 12 in six innings as Santa Margarita HS (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) beat T.C. Roberson HS (Asheville, N.C.), 6-0. … St. Xavier HS (Louisville, Ky.) edged Doral Academy (Fla.), 1-0, as lefty Ty Starke tossed a two-hit shutout. ... Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, Nev.) blanked Blessed Trinity HS (Roswell, Ga.), 9-0, as Gunnar Myro went 3-for-4 with five RBIs.