Giants hope Meckler's 'video-game numbers' spark offense

No. 11 prospect walks in MLB debut after fast rise through Minor League system

August 15th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- has made a habit of proving people wrong.  

As a freshman at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, the undersized outfielder measured only 4-foot-10, 75 pounds, causing many to doubt that he would ever accomplish his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player. But he refused to quit, finding a way to beat the odds at every turn. 

Meckler capped his improbable rise to the Majors on Monday, when he was called up by the Giants only 13 months after being selected in the eighth round of the 2022 Draft. He started in center field and went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 10-2 series-opening loss to the Rays at Oracle Park, completing a storybook journey for the hot-hitting prospect. 

A left-handed hitter, Meckler led all qualified Minor Leaguers at full-season affiliates with a .379 batting average and .463 on-base percentage across three levels this year, making him only the fourth member of the 2022 Draft class to reach the Majors, after Zach Neto, Ben Joyce and Víctor Mederos of the Angels.

“Obviously, I got drafted last year,” Meckler said. “I wasn’t expecting to be here. But I was expecting to hit. I was kind of just setting the standard high for myself and keeping myself accountable every day. Luckily, it got me here, but obviously, I have to keep it going.”

The Giants were hoping the arrival of Meckler and veteran infielder Johan Camargo would help jolt their slumping offense, which ranks last in the Majors with a .615 OPS in 29 games since the All-Star break, but they continued to look flat against the Rays, mustering only six hits against right-hander Tyler Glasnow and left-hander Jacob Lopez, who was making his Major League debut.

Meckler struck out looking on three pitches in his first at-bat against Glasnow, grounded out in his second and then drew a walk in his third trip to the plate in the sixth. He came up with the bases loaded and two outs the following inning, but he struck out swinging on a slider from Lopez to end the threat.

Wilmer Flores was unavailable after being scratched with an ear infection, but the Giants could have sent the right-handed-hitting Heliot Ramos to pinch-hit for Meckler in that spot. Still, manager Gabe Kapler said he felt the moment was a good development opportunity for Meckler. 

“That particular decision was showing faith in a young player that we believe has a chance to hit lefties moving forward,” Kapler said.

The Rays pounded out a season-high 18 hits against Giants pitching, 10 of which came against rookie Tristan Beck, who surrendered five runs over three innings. With their seventh loss in their last nine games, the Giants (63-56) dropped nine games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West and slipped to a half-game ahead of the Marlins for the second Wild Card spot.

That Meckler has managed to get this far, this fast is a testament to his relentless grit and determination. Ranked the Giants’ No. 11 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Meckler went unrecruited out of high school and ended up walking on at Oregon State, where he got only 10 at-bats as a freshman in 2019.

He was encouraged to transfer after a new coaching staff took over the program, but he decided to stay, even after a roster mishap essentially left him as the “35th guy on a 34-man roster” as a sophomore. 

After that season was cut short by the pandemic, Meckler redoubled his efforts to improve and wound up blossoming into one of the top hitters in the Pac-12 over his final two years in Corvallis. The Giants selected him with the 256th overall pick last year, giving him a below-slot signing bonus of $97,500.

Meckler hasn’t stopped hitting since, slashing .379/.463/.522 with five home runs, 15 doubles, 46 RBIs, 39 walks and 43 strikeouts in 69 games between High-A Eugene (20 games), Double-A Richmond (39 games) and Triple-A Sacramento (10 games) in his first full professional season.

"Wade Meckler's FanGraphs page or Baseball Reference page or pick-your-stats page is a pretty fun one to look at," Kapler said. "It's just kind of silly, video-game numbers. Not huge home run numbers, of course, but the on-base stuff is pretty impressive. A lot of that is just he's got really good plate discipline and really good bat-to-ball skills.

With Mike Yastrzemski expected to miss more time after suffering a setback with his left hamstring strain, Meckler will give the Giants another left-handed option in the outfield, where he’s likely to see time in center following Luis Matos’ corresponding demotion to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.

“I’m always going to play hard,” Meckler said. “I’m going to run hard out of the box. I’m going to grind out at-bats and try to make the pitcher break first. That’s kind of my whole M.O. I’m trying to get the pitcher to break before I miss three pitches.”