Today the Yankees returned Rule 5 pick from the Nationals, Brad Meyers. In order to keep him, he had to be on the 25 man roster all year. Instead he was on the DL all year except for one rehab game in the minors. So the Nats got him back and he was optioned to Syracuse. If you remember, a few people were a little upset that they didn’t protect him by putting him on the 40 man (thus preventing any team from taking him in the Rule 5 draft), especially after the success he saw in 2009 and 2011. Let’s first take a look at what he did there.
In 2009, at age 23, after being in the minors for a year and a half (he pitched late in the summer he signed), he showed some real promise. He started out in High-A Potomac, and he succeeded, as most former college pitchers should. He also spent 1/3 of his season at AA, which is a much bigger challenge, and succeeded there as well. In 48 IP in AA, he struck out 43, only walked 11, and had a 2.25 ERA. His numbers in high-A were better than that, and he was named the Nats Minor League Pitch of the year. But he hurt his foot in the offseason, and didn’t start the season. He only was able to make 6 starts before re-injuring it (or realizing it wasn’t fixed, perhaps), but in those 6 starts he was very good – 35K/7BB in 30 2/3 IP with a 1.47 ERA.
2011 was much better in terms of health, he made 22 starts in AA and AAA (plus 2 rehab starts in the NYPL). In a total of 138 2/3 IP, he struck out 116 and only walked 15, with a 3.18 ERA. He pitched better in AA than in AAA, but he wasn’t bad in Syracuse. He might have even been the next starter up after John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang, if they had ever needed one, and if he hadn’t been taken by the Yankees.
Unfortunately for Brad, he hurt himself again in offseason workouts, but this time it was the shoulder. He only started once, in a rehab start in April, and did poorly, but he was hurt and the numbers aren’t relevant. After that appearance he was back on the DL and wasn’t heard from again. Until now, when the Nats got him back.
The question for him isn’t really where he belongs. He hasn’t shown dominance above AA, so he almost certainly will be given a shot to be great in AAA. And anything less than great might not cut it at age 27, although the organization will certainly keep in mind that he lost almost two full seasons to injury. The real question for him revolves around his health. Shoulder injuries are scary, and when the word “labrum” is used, it’s even scarier. They are familiar with what he was able to do before the injury, and they’ll be able to tell how healthy he is. If he is healthy, I expect him to get starts in Syracuse unless he is needed in Washington, but not be actually considered for a #1 through 5 role in the Nats rotation.