When a college player with a good track record falls to the later stages of the MLB Draft, he must have some fatal flaw. For Tampa Bay Rays 36th rounder Bryan Bonnell, his issue was obvious–a disastrous, injury-riddled junior season. For 37th round selection Kewby Meyer, however, it is harder to figure out exactly what he did wrong. Meyer, a 6’1″, 190 senior outfielder out of Nevada, capped his excellent four-year collegiate career with his best season in 2015, hitting to a .343/.385/.542 line with 23 doubles, 6 homers, and 55 RBI in 55 games.
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More impressive than the statistics may be the way that Meyer’s teammates talked about him. Other Nevada players hit for a higher average or drilled more home runs, yet they described the lefty-swinging Meyer as the team’s best hitter nonetheless. They praised his even-keeled demeanor–nothing ever seemed to faze him–and his smooth line drive swing with occasional over-the-fence power. For all four of his years at Nevada, Meyer was an extremely consistent hitter who the Wolfpack could rely upon day after day.
It is easy to look at that and see a player who could turn into something way down in the 37th round of the MLB Draft. It is not easy to find players with the natural pure hitting ability of Kewby Meyer and his bat may be enough to get him to the major leagues if the rest of his game makes just minor strides. However, he has some questions about his pitch recognition, and then there are his other weaknesses, which are more overarching.
The Rays drafted Meyer as an outfielder, which doesn’t tell you much. The reality is that he was the regular left fielder for Nevada, and he wasn’t even a strong defender at the position. Nevada has boxscores posted for their final 51 games of the season–in those contests, Meyer was removed late in a game 20 times. Some of those came in blowouts, but he was taken out for defensive purposes 10 times in games where the Wolfpack led or trailed by less than four runs including 7 games where the margin was within three runs. That is not something you want to see from a player in college, where the defensive standard is lower than in the pro ranks.
Meyer is a below-average defender in left and the only other position he can play is first base, where he isn’t good either. That puts a ton of pressure on his bat, and though he has a chance to hit for a nice average, he simply doesn’t have enough power to profile at either position. Ten home runs and a bunch of doubles per season simply isn’t enough. Even a reasonable best-case scenario for his career is James Loney with terrible defense rather than Gold Glove-worthy fielding, and that isn’t a player that you want on your 25-man roster, let alone starting.
On the other hand, you don’t hear about hitters as consistent as Kewby Meyer very often. Maybe he is truly good enough to hit .320 or .330, and at that point, maybe he would be hitting enough to overcome his unimpressive defense. Meyer has the ability to appear in the major leagues from the 37th round, and making the Show even for a day would make him a success from that standpoint. The Tampa Bay Rays are wondering, however, whether his promising hit tool is enough for him to make much more of an impact than that.
Click this link to read our other 2015 Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles.