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Nationals’ 2011 first-rounder Alex Meyer shines in High-A debut

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If you lined up the Potomac Nationals in no particular order, one player would stick out quite easily. Standing at 6-foot-9, Alex Meyer is the tallest player in the entire Washington organization.

Baseball players that tall are unusual, but the Nationals' 2011 first-round pick thinks it gives him a distinct advantage.

"It should give me a better plane on the ball," said Meyer, who was selected 23rd overall. "I should be on top of hitters more."

Making his debut for the High-A Potomac Nationals on Friday night at Pfitzner Stadium, Meyer was a giant on the mound, pitching six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, three hits, one walk and a hit batter in the 8-3 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

"I just wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win," said Meyer.

The 22-year-old felt comfortable on the mound after making the jump from Low-A Hagerstown to High-A.

"I didn't have any nerves," said Meyer. "I was upset at myself after the first two pitches [weren't] anywhere close."

Meyer has a unique weapon in his pitching arsenal — which he learned from his father during his freshman year of high school — and it was effective Friday night. The pitch goes by many names: slider, spiker, slurve, but Meyer prefers a different one.

"I call it a knuckle curve, and it worked well for me tonight," said Meyer. "I think it definitely changed their whole outlook in the box. Once you establish fastball command, it opens up everything else and I feel I accomplished that tonight."

Being as tall as he is, he naturally has big hands, which help him get a better get a better handle on a difficult grip.

"[My hands] really help to get around the ball and helps control it a little bit better," said Meyer.

Meyer was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 20th round of the 2008 draft, but he declined the opportunity and instead chose to attend the University of Kentucky.

Looking back on his decision to get a college education, Meyer knows he made the right call.

"Out of high school, it's hard to come in here and try to play professional baseball," said Meyer. "I'm glad I went [to college], my parents made the decision for me, but I'm happy about it."

Now in the Nationals' organization, Meyer is seen as the top overall prospect and is expected to be a member of the rotation in the future. Over 96 minor-league innings, Meyer has a 2.91 ERA and 107 strikeouts. There are still a few things he needs to work on as he climbs through the farm system, but there's one key component he wants to achieve each night he pitches.

"Be consistent and throw up zeros," said Meyer. "If you can do that, you're going to be pretty successful."

Notes

• Xavier Nady (right wrist tendonitis) and Chad Tracy (groin surgery) continued their rehab Friday night. Tracy finished 1-for-3 and had an RBI. Nady was also 1-for-3 and added a run.

• Friday marked the final day of Nady's rehab assignment, as he reached the maximum 20 days. Rather than activating him, the Nationals are expected to designate him for assignment.

Amanda Comak contributed

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