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Athleticism Is Everything To Max Meyer



Shhh. Don’t tell the Marlins, but 22-year-old righthander Max Meyer spent the past two months playing pond hockey back home in Minnesota.

Not to worry—there were no injuries this time for Meyer, who played three years of high school hockey and dealt with numerous stitches on his lips, eyebrows and other body parts.

Meyer, whom the Marlins drafted third overall out of Minnesota in 2020, arrived in South Florida in mid February, ready to live up to his status as Miami’s top pitching prospect aside from big league Sixto Sanchez.

“I left Minnesota when it was 20 below,” Meyer said, “and I got to Miami, and it was 85 degrees.”

That radical shift in weather is similar to what has happened to Meyer’s career. A two-way star at Woodbury (Minn.) High, Meyer had just two Division I scholarship offers: Illinois-Chicago, which was coached by the brother of his high school coach, and the home-state Golden Gophers.

Minnesota coach John Anderson liked Meyer’s athleticism—including that hockey background—and his slider. But Anderson also had a message for Meyer.

“We thought that slider would play at our level,” Anderson said. “But I told him to develop fastball command and to add a changeup as a third pitch. Give him credit. He dove in and changed his body in the weight room. His changeup is now a pretty good third pitch.

“He’s coachable, and I’m really proud of how he went about his business.”

The results shout success: a program record-tying 16 saves as a freshman; a 2.11 ERA as a sophomore while making 11 starts and five relief appearances; and then 46 strikeouts in 27 innings as a junior starter to go with with a 1.95 ERA and .155 opponent average.

The 6-foot Meyer said he reported to camp in great shape.

“I was at 200 pounds last year (at the Marlins’ alternate training site), but it didn’t feel like me,” Meyer said. “I’m back down to 185.

“My athleticism is damn near everything for me. Without that, I wouldn’t be here today.”

A tip of the hat, then, to (safe) pond hockey.

FISH BITES

— In order to get veteran reliever Dylan Floro, the Marlins sent two prospects to the Dodgers: righthander Kyle Hurt and lefthander Alex Vesia.

Hurt, a starter, was drafted in the fifth round out of Southern California last year. His fastball sits at 95 mph, but it remains to be seen how he will perform in the pros.

Vesia, a reliever drafted in the 17th round in 2018, had a 1.62 ERA in his first two years in the minors, across five levels. Due to an excellent spin rate, he gets filthy movement on his pitches and still has three minor league options remaining. He could be the steal of this deal.

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