Dreams do come true. Max Meyer will attest to it.
The Miami Marlins made Meyer the first pitcher selected in the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday when they picked the Gophers junior righthander with the No. 3 overall pick. That made the Woodbury native the highest Minnesotan selected since Joe Mauer from Cretin-Derham Hall was taken No. 1 by the Twins in 2001.
The third pick has a signing bonus slot limit of $7.2 million.
“I have been dreaming of this day ever since I was a little kid, and for my dreams to come true today, this is the greatest day of my life,” said Meyer, who was taken in the 34th round of the 2017 draft by the Twins before heading to the Gophers. “I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life.”
Meyer ties Paul Molitor (No. 3 to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1977) as the highest pick in Gophers history. He’s one of four Minnesotans to be picked in the top five of the draft, with Mauer, Molitor and Dave Winfield, who went No. 4 to San Diego in 1973.
“It’s unbelievable to be mentioned with two legends like Molitor and Winfield,” Meyer said. “That hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Meyer recently got an idea he might be selected by the Marlins.
“I had a really good meeting with them three days before the draft,” Meyer said. “They were at a couple of big games [Oregon and North Carolina] that I pitched this year. I could not be more excited to be joining the Miami Marlins organization and look forward to beginning the next chapter of my career.”
Meyer, 6 feet and 190 pounds, went 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA while striking out an average of 1.7 batters per inning for the Gophers this year before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season March 12. Batters hit only .155 off him this season and .187 over his three-year collegiate career.
“Not playing baseball right now is pretty weird,” Meyer said. “I’m ready to get back in the swing of things.”
Meyer’s fastball touched 100 miles per hour this season and averaged 96 mph. His best pitch, the slider, has drawn comparisons to David Cone’s while his changeup is ever improving.
The MLB scouting analysis on him says: “Meyer owns the best slider in the 2020 draft, a wipeout 87-91 mph offering with which he can add and subtract depth. But he’s also a quality athlete who repeats a fluid delivery and fills the strike zone, and he was so dominant in the brief 2020 season, so he has plenty of believers.”
Meyer, 21, pitched out of the bullpen for the Gophers as a freshman and part of his sophomore season before coach John Anderson moved him into the starting rotation. Meyer prefers to remain a starter.
“I’m a starter 100 percent,” Meyer said. “I’ve learned how to read everybody’s swing, helping me become a better pitcher.”
Some have suggested Meyer could possibly be on a fast track to the parent club since minor league baseball has been shut down because of the pandemic. The Marlins, who are coming off a 57-105 season, have ranked 25th (4.76 in 2018) and 20th (4.74 in 2019) among MLB teams in earned-run average the past two seasons.
“That is something I’ve been thinking about,” Meyer said. “The end goal is to get to the major leagues.
“Everybody wants to get back to playing baseball. I hope we can start up soon and get back to a more normal life.”
The last time the Gophers had a pitcher taken in the first round of the MLB draft was lefthander Glen Perkins. He was selected by the Twins at No. 22 in 2004.