Going into the 2017 draft the Astros had the #15 overall pick, and two supplemental picks from the Cardinals hacking scandal. Looking back on the draft now, and it appears the Astros made a lot of good choices. Seven of the picks have already made their MLB debut (Bukauskas, Martin, Ivey, Solomon, Bielak, McCormick and Rojas). But I don’t think that list will stop at seven with guys like J.J. Matijevic, Joe Perez, and others still to come. One pick that can’t be overlooked is outfielder Jake Meyers who the Astros selected in the 13th round out of the University of Nebraska.
In 2018, Jake’s first full season in the minors, he hit .278 with 31 2B, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 16 SB in 121 games. The next year between A+ and AA, Meyers hit .249 with 28 2B, 9 HR, 47 RBI in 111 games. This season Jake is playing in AAA with the Skeeters and is off to a nice start hitting .273 with .814 OPS, 6 2B, 6 HR, 16 RBI in 29 games. He is seen as a very good defender in the outfield that can play all three outfield positions. I had the opportunity to talk with Jake and ask him some questions. Let’s get to the interview!
Astros Future (AF): So you grew up in Nebraska. Was it the dream of every kid growing where you grow up to play for the University of Nebraska?
Jake Meyers (JM): “Yes, you said it, it was a dream. My dad played there, I grew up a massive Husker fan as well. I actually got the opportunity to play for Darin Erstad who played at Nebraska, my dad was actually an assistant coach. So it was a perfect storm of everything.”
AF: Did they recruit you as a pitcher or an outfielder?
JM: “They recruited me as a pitcher, initially, and then I swung it well my senior year in high school so they said you are gonna be a two-way. I didn’t get very many ABs my freshman year, more of a pitcher. Started hitting well at the end of my career.”
AF: So it just transitioned to playing more in the outfield and pitching less because you were more successful with the bat?
JM: “Yep, I kinda started swinging it better in college and found a way in the lineup and kinda just stayed there.”
AF: Do you miss the pitching side of baseball?
JM: “Not a ton, I didn’t have the greatest stuff on the mound so I knew wasn’t gonna get as far so I don’t miss it a ton but one thing I do miss is being able to compete up there, on that other end. It was super fun.”
AF: I noticed with Buies Creek you pitched 1.1 innings a couple year ago, haven’t pitched since, but Alex De Goti pitch the ninth inning the other night so were you thinking you wanted to pitch that inning instead?
JM: “I did get the experience to do it in pro ball and come off as a position player and I was actually not too fond of it because you know your hands are kinda tied. As a position player they don’t want you to go out there and get outs, they want you to go out there and throw strikes. It was tough for me because I wanted to compete against the hitter.”
AF: How has that translated to the outfield for you in terms of your arm strength and stuff like that? What would be your best tool as a prospect?
JM: “I think just learning the pitcher’s mindset. I try to keep growing that through listening and talking to a lot of pitchers because I have been through their shoes in a way in college, but obviously they’re a lot better they have gotten to the pros. I’d say just working with them through their thought process and how they want to throw hitters kinda gives me that edge of anticipating in the outfield.”
AF: You started off the season incredibly hot, cooled down a little bit but had a three hit game a couple nights ago. Do you think it’s pitchers making adjustments?
JM: “I think it’s just baseball honestly. Baseball is gonna happen, you are gonna have ups and downs. You know this is a really really good league, a lot of really good players in this league. Just trying to keep the same routine, I know it’s worked early in the season so I know just sticking with that through the ups and downs it’s gonna end up where we want.”
AF: Have you been trying to intentionally hit for more power or is that something that has just happened?
JM: “I think as a hitter two off-seasons ago I tried to really get the exit velos up more but recently I’ve just been working on simplifying and trying to get the barrel on the ball. So a little bit of both but I’d say just trying to grow as a hitter as a whole”
AF: I talked with Tyler Ivey back in April and I asked him who the toughest hitter he faced in the minors was and he said Jake Meyers. So who is the toughest pitcher you faced so far in the Astros organization?
JM: “I mean Tyler Ivey is an uncomfortable AB that’s for sure. I’m gonna give a AAA guy, he’s in the bigs now, Ralph Garza. Ralph Garza is one of the more uncomfortable ABs I’ve faced.
AF: You played about 150 games in High-A, 24 in Double-A, missed the 2020 season and now you are in AAA. Has that been an adjustment going from 24 games in AA to AAA and was there anything you worked in 2020?
JM: “Yea absolutely. The alternate site last year was just huge for me. I got a ton of reps with a ton of great coaches and players, especially at the higher levels and got to see some really good arms and really get comfortable with what I need to work on and just get better.”
AF: So do you think not having the season might have actually benefited you from what you were able to work on rather than just playing in games?
JM: “I mean it’s hard to know if it was better or worse but it definitely benefited me in the sense that I got the reps to see really good pitchers and got to work on what I needed to work on and get better.”
AF: You’ve played for Buies Creek, Quad Cities, Fayetteville, Tri-City, the Hooks and now the Skeeters in AAA so how would you rank the ballpark amongst the ones you played in so far?
JM: “It’s up there, I’d definitely say it’s up there. Here and Fayetteville are the two that really jump out to me but this is top of the line. They’ve done a fantastic job with the renovations and the staff doing a great job taking care of us. It’s been a lot of fun to play here.”
Thanks to Jake Meyers for taking some time to chat with me before the game and good luck to him the rest of the season!