Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
Meyer & Meyer sounds like a law firm. To Miami Marlins fans, however, it has a different meaning.
Maybe, just maybe, it could one day refer to two pitchers near the top of the Marlins’ rotation.
Meet Max Meyer and Noble Meyer. Both are hard-throwing right-handers with ultra-promising futures.
In June, the Marlins made Noble Meyer – yes, headline writers will have fun getting creative with his colorful name – their first pick. They selected him No. 10 overall in the Major League Baseball draft.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Jesuit High (OR) pitcher has outstanding credentials: a fastball clocked in the high 90s, a nasty slider that is considered his best pitch, a “plus” changeup, and great command.
In his senior prep season, he had a 0.33 ERA, 128 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 63 innings at the time of the draft.
“He was clearly the best high school pitcher in the country,” DJ Svihlik, Miami’s senior director of amateur scouting, said after Meyer was drafted. “We didn’t expect him to fall all the way to us.”
Marlins general manager Kim Ng said she believed Meyer will be a “top-of-the-rotation” pitcher for the Fish down the road.
Svihlik had planned to draft a hitter in the first round, but he changed his mind when the long and lean Meyer, 18, became available.
“When you have the opportunity to select someone that you’re very confident in … it’s very hard to pass up,” he said. “It’s a very exciting pick for us.”
In its scouting report, MLB Pipeline said Meyer, who committed to the University of Oregon, “has all the ingredients to be a future frontline starter.”
The same can be said for Max Meyer (no relation), who had Tommy John surgery a year ago but is a candidate to be in Miami’s rotation in 2024.
Max Meyer, 24, was drafted by the Marlins with the No. 3 overall pick in 2020. He starred for three seasons at the University of Minnesota and signed for a Marlins-record $6.7 million.
In 2021, he was named the Double-A South’s pitcher of the year, and he had the fifth-lowest ERA (2.27) in the minors. The next year, his elbow blew out in his second major-league start, forcing reconstructive surgery that sidelined him for this season.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Meyer since he was drafted, but he and Noble have the potential to be feared pitchers around the league in the future.
Fishing for Pitchers
Noble Meyer was one of 21 selections the Marlins made in the 2023 draft. Fifteen of their picks were pitchers. Eighteen of their final 19 selections were used on college players.
Bleacher Report gave the Marlins an A-minus for their draft picks. Only nine major-league teams had higher grades, topped by Pittsburgh, Washington, and San Francisco, teams that received an A-plus.
Besides Noble Meyer, here were the Marlins’ other notable choices:
Pick No. 35 overall (Competitive Balance section, Round A): Thomas White, LHP, Phillips (Mass.) Academy.
The Marlins also went for a high school pitcher with their second selection, and the hard-throwing 6-5 White is loaded with potential The Vanderbilt signee, regarded as the second-best high school pitcher in the draft, had a combined 165 strikeouts in 75 innings over his junior and senior seasons. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 m.p.h.
Pick No. 47 overall (second round): Kemp Alderman, OF, Mississippi.
He has great raw power (19 homers as a junior) and hits to all fields. Alderman will probably play a corner-outfield spot, but he also has been used as a catcher in high school and college.
As a hitter, Alderman’s stock rose at the MLB Draft Combine, registering the highest exit velocity (111.4 mph) of any of the prospects.
Pick No. 78 overall (third round): Brock Vradenburg, IB, Michigan State.
If size means anything, Vrandenburg will be a slugger. The 6-7, 230-pounder had 13 homers, 22 doubles and 69 RBIs in 55 games as a junior. He also displayed patience, collecting more walks (36) than strikeouts (34).
Pick No. 110 overall (fourth round): Emmett Olson, LHP, Nebraska.
The 6-4 junior compiled a 3.83 ERA with 161 strikeouts and 52 walks in 160 innings during his collegiate career, which started at Wichita State. A second-team all-Big Ten selection in 2022, he went 6-3 with a 4.50 ERA this season.
Pick No. 146 overall (fifth round): Andrew Lindsey, P, Tennessee.
Used mostly out of the bullpen this season, Lindsey throws in the mid-90s and put together a 3-3 record with a 2.90 ERA. In 71 1/3 innings, he struck out 73 and walked just 19. Twelve of his 21 appearances were in relief.
Pick No. 173 overall (sixth round): Jake DeLeo, OF, Georgia Tech.
One of Tech’s top hitters (.365, 14 HRs, 53 RBIs), the speedy DeLeo (6-2, 201) had a .426 on-base percentage for the Yellow Jackets. The Connecticut native was ranked as the No. 8 high school outfielder in the nation before going to Tech.
Pick No. 203 overall (seventh round): Justin Storm, P, Southern Mississippi.
The 6-7 lefthanded reliever is an imposing figure on the mound and has an electric fastball. At SMU, he had a 2.36 ERA and averaged 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2023.
Pick No. 233 overall (eighth round): Nick Maldonado, RHP, Vanderbilt.
The 6-1, 207-pound Vanderbilt reliever, a New Jersey native, had eight saves as a closer this season and compiled an impressive 1.45 ERA. In 31 innings, he allowed just 14 hits, struck out 40 and walked seven.
Pick No. 263 overall (ninth round): Colby Shade, OF, Oregon.
Shade’s third season at Oregon was the best of his career. The slick-fielding centerfielder batted .336 with six homers, 31 RBIs and 55 runs scored. He broke a bone in his arm during the NCAA Regionals and missed most of the five post-season games, though he was used as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner in the Super Regional.
Pick No. 293 overall (10th round): Xavier Meachem, RHP, North Carolina A&T.
Meacham became the highest-selected A&T player in the draft since lefthander Al Holland (fourth round, 81st overall) in 1975. His numbers didn’t exactly overwhelm anybody as he had a 5.59 ERA in 48 1/3 innings this season. But the Marlins like his 97 m.p.h. fastball and the impressive spin rate on his slider.
After drafting high school pitchers with their first two picks, the Marlins dipped back into the prep pool in Round 18, selecting lanky lefty Tristan Dietrich out of Owen J. Roberts High in Pottsville, Pa.
They got him with the 553rd overall pick. The Athletic had rated him at No. 98. The 6-4 Dietrich has a fastball in the low 90s and an impressive slider. In his senior season, he had a 2.04 ERA and a staggering 55 strikeouts in 24 innings.
The Fish took a chance on Ryan Ignoffo, a 22-year-old lefty from Eastern Illinois University, in the 20th round.
Svihlik is high on him, and intrigued by the fact he can pitch – he has a 94 m.p.h. fastball – or play right field or first base. His collegiate numbers last season suggest he is more fit as a hitter (.335 average, 15 homers, 61 RBIs, 29 steals in 59 games) than a pitcher (4.91 ERA, 49 strikeouts, 24 walks in 44 innings).