Brooklyn Cyclones catcher Nick Meyer could be the New York Mets’ future behind the plate, thanks to his strong defensive abilities.
Casey Stengel once said, “No baseball pitcher would be worth a darn without a catcher who could handle the hot fastball.”
Over the past few seasons, the New York Mets have struggled to find a catcher who could not only hit, but also be a dependable receiver. Since 2014, seven catchers have adorned the blue and orange, with limited success.
Defensively, Travis d’Arnaud has gone from a rising prospect to an underwhelming starter. He’s thrown out just 21 percent of runners, has a catcher ERA of 4.11 and has been plagued by his long injury history. Just this season, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL.
Once one of the top up-and-coming catchers in the game, d’Arnaud will no longer be counted upon to be the team’s future behind the plate. Thomas Nido and Kevin Plawecki have also failed to live up to the hype, leaving the Mets with no desirable long-term option.
Enter Nick Meyer.
The Mets’ sixth-round pick in 2018 was named one of the four best defenders in the draft by MLB.com’s Jim Callis. He was the 2018 Big West Defensive Player of the Year, contributing to 11 double plays and posting a career-best .988 fielding percentage.
Baseball America describes him as this: “He excels at stealing strikes at the bottom of the zone in particular, and guides his pitchers expertly through jams. His arm strength is consistently above-average and flashes plus, and he excels at back-picking runners off first base.”
Meyer used to be easily spotted by his signature locks and handlebar mustache. Now, he blends in like all of the other guys — except, of course, when he is behind home plate when he transforms into a defensive monster.
“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Meyer told Elite Sports New York before Tuesday night’s game against Staten Island. “It’s kind of my number one thing, and honestly a big reason why I got drafted pretty high.”
Meyer is remarkably self-aware, reciting his scouting report nearly by heart. “Oh God,” he told me with a chuckle, when I asked how he would describe his own game. “I can give you what everybody else thinks… Hitting, it’s not there apparently, but I don’t think so. Whatever — everyone can say what they want.”
In 2018, Meyer slashed .344/.408/.428 and swiped 3 bags. While he doesn’t project to hit for power, Meyer has struck out only 53 times in 600 career at-bats. This is a remarkable figure, not only because of how patient Meyer was at the plate, but also because of how much adversity he has had to overcome.
Meyer was born with a condition called pre-axial polydactyly, which means that he was born with two thumbs on his left hand. When he was two years old, the extra thumb was removed, but not without side effects. He can’t bend his left thumb all the way.
Still, Meyer has spent little time feeling bad for himself. He is currently one of the Cyclones’ top prospects, and if all goes well, he should quickly rise up the organization’s catcher rankings.
“I’m the catcher that’s a good catcher, can command the game, defense first, plays good behind the plate, good arm, good receiving,” Meyer says.
We say that’s a good recipe for success.