The Miami Marlins selected Minnesota pitcher Max Meyer with the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. The right-hander was in his third season with the Gophers, posting a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 IP before the coronavirus pandemic cut his season short. Meyer had a tremendous career at Minnesota with a 2.07 ERA and a K/9 rate of 11.4 over 148 IP.
Although Meyer wasn’t at the top of the radar for a lot of fans that follow the Fish, his game film reveals a terrific repertoire that could land him in the top half of the rotation in a couple of years. His fastball average is in the mid 90s, and has topped out at 101 mph. He also has a slider that a few experts have touted as the best in the entire 2020 class. Additionally, he has a changeup that he can work in from time to time.
For the past two seasons, the Derek Jeter-led Marlins have focused on position players at the top of the draft, while saving the pitchers for later rounds. Jeter and his staff continue to value college pitchers over their high school counterparts, but usually not this early in the draft. The last college pitcher the Marlins selected in the first round was Andrew Heaney in 2012.
Signability appears to have been a significant factor here, too. Within minutes of the announcement, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported that Meyer and the Marlins had verbally agreed to a contract. The 21-year-old will “a bit below” the pick’s $7,221,200 slot value, per league insider Jon Heyman. Meanwhile, presumptive Marlins draft choice Asa Lacy, a star left-hander from Texas A&M, was expected to command an overslot deal.
Meyer joins a Marlins’ pitching core that is already loaded with talent. Five of their top ten prospects are pitchers (Sixto Sanchez , Edward Cabrera, Nick Neidert, Braxton Garrett, and Trevor Rogers), according to MLB Pipeline.
As of Wednesday night, it hasn’t been reported which level he will report to first, although Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik thinks that he will be MLB-ready relatively quickly.
“That’s the most athletic college pitcher in this draft with the most electric stuff. And he’s just about Major League ready.”
Although Meyer has a lot of upside, he comes with some concerns as well. Standing at 6’0 and 185 lbs, he’s not built like a typical starting pitcher. He started his career as a reliever at Minnesota and only made 15 starts in three years (his third year was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic). Of course, his size isn’t a death sentence, but it will be interesting to see how his durability holds up when asked to be a full-time starter in the pros. Svihlik cited Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt and Cincinnati Reds starter Sonny Gray as favorable comps.
The Baseball America staff believes he can still succeed with a modest frame because “there’s not a disconcerting amount of effort in his delivery and he also has a strong history of throwing quality strikes. He’s one of the more athletic pitchers in recent years.”
If Fish fans want a good omen for this pick, however, consider this: The last time a Minnesota player was drafted this high was in 1977—that player’s name was Paul Molitor.
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