Max Meyer didn’t expect to be selected in the 2017 MLB draft. He didn’t have an advisor and received little interest from professional teams.
When the Minnesota Twins selected the right-handed pitcher from Woodbury High (Minn.) in the 34th round of the 2017 draft, it caught Meyer by surprised.
The Twins didn’t end up having enough signing bonus money left to sway Meyer out of his commitment to the University of Minnesota and advised him to attend college for three years before becoming draft eligible again, he said.
Nearly three years later, Meyer is preparing for his junior season this spring and is considered a potential first-round pick in June’s draft after thriving in his first two seasons at Minnesota.
If he’s selected in the first round, Meyer would be Minnesota’s first first-round pick since Glen Perkins was drafted 22nd overall by the Twins in 2004.
“I didn’t even know I was going to get pick my year out of high school, so I didn’t do too much,” Meyer said. “I’m getting used to it a little bit with having phone calls with people. It’s relaxing, and now I am not thinking about it too much.”
As a freshman in 2018, Meyer excelled as Minnesota’s closer. He tied the program’s record with 16 saves. He also recorded 54 strikeouts and allowed 13 walks in 43 2/3 innings.
Last season, Meyer moved to the starting rotation and continued to perform at a high level. He notched a 2.11 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 20 walks allowed in 76 2/3 innings last season.
For the second consecutive summer, Meyer also competed with Team USA and posted a team-best 0.64 ERA across 14 innings last summer.
Meyer, a 6-foot, 185-pound righty, throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider and changeup out of a three-quarters arm slot.
His fastballs sit in the mid-90s. He just started throwing his two-seamer and plans on incorporating the pitch in the later innings of starts to keep hitters off balanced with its movement, he said.
Meyer throws the best slider in this year’s draft class. The wipeout low-90s slider is a pitch he’s thrown his entire life, which has allowed him to have a strong feel for the pitch, even though he tends to alter the grip slightly on almost a yearly basis, he said.
He repeats his delivery well and has solid command of all four of his pitches.
“Definitely confidence is my biggest strength,” Meyer said. “Some guys just lack a little confidence going in and it’s tough for them. But having a bunch of confidence is huge for any baseball player.”
He’s starting to develop a better feel for his changeup but remains focused on developing the offering this spring, he said. Last summer when he was with Team USA, Meyer found a comfortable grip and started to just throw the pitch occasionally right down the middle. It allowed him to gain feel and confidence in his changeup, he said.
He also added about 10-15 pounds to his frame this offseason and hopes to remain committed to a workout routine this spring.
“I want to get more on a strict routine on when I’m going to workout after I throw and just keep my weight because I usually drop about 10 pounds during the season,” Meyer said. “I really want to more consistently stay in the weight room.”
Meyer has served as a two-way player each of the last two seasons. Although he doesn’t expect to play in the field this season, he anticipates serving as a designated hitter on days he doesn’t pitch, he said.
Over the last two years, Meyer has recorded a .238 batting average with five doubles, one home run and 14 RBIs in 151 at-bats.
After three straight seasons with 36-plus win between 2016-18, the Golden Gophers regressed slightly last season with a 29-win season.
This year, the Golden Gophers have higher expectations. Meyer believes the Golden Gophers have the talent to make noise this season and potentially make a deep run in postseason play, just like Michigan did last year to advance one win away from winning the College World Series.
“I just want to do my best to help my team win, and that’s all I really care about this year,” Meyer said. “We have a really good pitching staff, and we have bats that can produce some runs this year. We are looking like a pretty dangerous team. I just want to do my best to help the team win, and if I do that, I feel like we can go far with the talent we have on our team.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.