SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals showed once again that they can never have enough pitching by selecting right-hander Alex Meyer from the University of Kentucky with the 23rd pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft on Monday night.
The Nationals received an extra pick because they lost first baseman Adam Dunn, who signed a free-agent contract with the White Sox this past winter.
Meyer had a 2.94 ERA and struck out 110 batters in 101 innings for Kentucky this season. Some Draft experts had Meyer taken by the Nationals with the sixth pick, but the team gambled with the hope that he would be available later in the first round, and he was.
CWS, DET, NYY and PHI did not have first-round selections.
"He is a big power right-handed pitcher," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He has three plus pitches. They come down at an extreme downhill angle. He is mid-to-upper 90s consistently, and throws a hard, wicked wipeout slider. ... He is a guy who has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation guy."
Assistant general manager Roy Clark and scouting director Kris Kline said the Nationals considered taking Meyer with the sixth overall pick and worried that he may not be available with the 23rd pick. The Nationals ended up taking Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the sixth pick.
Kline went so far as to compare Meyer's stuff to right-hander Gerrit Cole, who was taken bt the Pirates as the first overall pick in this year's Draft.
"Both are power guys," Kline said. "Right now, Gerrit is more durable, but [Meyer] is going to fill out. He has made great strides from last year to now. He has made tremendous progress."
Meyer is another power pitcher who could join Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation in a couple of years. It's not known where he will start once he signs with the Nationals.
Before reaching the big leagues, Myer needs to make some tweaks. He currently works better while pitching out of the stretch, according to Kline.
"He gets a little methodical from the windup. It's a good thing for him and it helps him keep it together. He is getting closer as far at that goes," Kline said. "Worst-case scenario, you have a [Daniel] Bard-type of reliever with a better slider and someone you could bring in for the back of the bullpen that could dominate."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.