Position: LHP Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Born: 7/3/81 Bats: Right Throws: Left
Dan Meyer was the key prospect acquired by Oakland in Thursday's trade that sent Tim Hudson to Atlanta. Selected by the Braves in the supplemental first round in 2002, Meyer was an effective college pitcher at James Madison and has carried this forward as a professional. The Braves generally prefer to draft and develop high school talent, but felt they could not pass Meyer up with the 34th overall pick that year. Meyer emerged quickly as a top prospect, doing well at every level of pro ball, and impressing scouts and coaches in two major league innings last year. He is one of the best southpaw prospects in the game.
Early in his career, there was some consideration of making Meyer a reliever, but he's shown he has the repertoire, durability and mental attributes of a starting pitcher. Meyer has plus velocity for a southpaw, throwing his fastball a consistent 90-93 mph. His heater has unusually good sinking action from a lefty, and he mixes it well with a tight slider, a curveball, a splitter, and a standard changeup. His biggest need coming into '04 was to improve the changeup, which always has been promising but was erratic in the past. He met this goal, giving him a complete arsenal. Meyer has good command and is an efficient pitcher with little wasted effort in his delivery. He isn't afraid to throw inside but also can paint a corner when needed. His overall level of athleticism is good, which helps him with fielding and holding runners. He also is intelligent and competitive. The bottom line is that Meyer has few flaws as a pitcher and has worked hard to correct those he has.
You can't find anything wrong with Meyer's statistical set. His K/BB, K/IP, and H/IP ratios are all strong, and showed very little deterioration as he faced better competition up the professional ladder. His home run allowed rate is also low, another positive sign. His 19-19 career record in the minor leagues might not be great, but his 2.71 ERA and 381-87 K/BB in 352 minor league innings are much better indicators of his talent level.
Meyer has had no major health concerns. With a consistent delivery and an efficient pitching approach, his injury risk is no higher than that of any other pitcher his age. It is likely somewhat lower in fact, although the risk is always present.
What to expect
With Hudson out of the picture, Meyer will have a good chance to win a starting rotation job in Oakland. He has no major weaknesses, many strengths and is quite comparable to a young Barry Zito or Mark Mulder. If everything goes according to plan, Meyer should be a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. Things do not always go according to plan, of course, especially when young pitchers are involved. But the key is to load the odds in your favor as much as possible. For Meyer, the odds look as good as they can be. Both the scouting reports and numbers agree that he is a premium prospect.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, "Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation," is also out, and can be ordered through online book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, Jeri; son, Nicholas; and feline friends Toonces and Spot.