Meyer is working on his offense in AFL
Third baseman has proved he can play strong defense, but his bat needs to improve
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Astros feel they could be set at third base for the next few years if the Matt Dominguez who showed an impressive power stroke last year while playing a steady third base continues to develop with the bat and draws more walks.
The team still has high hopes for former third-round pick Jonathan Meyer, who figures to open next season as the starter at third base at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Like Dominguez, Meyer gets it done on defense, but his career arc will generally depend on his ability to hit the ball.
"He's put himself in a situation where he's going to earn the right to go there and try to win the Triple-A job," Astros farm director Quinton McCracken said. "That's the vantage point we're talking with Jonathan. Defensively, you won't find a better glove probably in Minor League Baseball. Offensively, he's redefining his approach, and that was one of the main things we wanted him to [work on in the Arizona Fall League]."
Meyer, 23, is on the taxi squad for the Peoria Javelinas, which means he plays twice a week. He has hit .256 with a homer and seven RBIs in 39 at-bats in Arizona against some of the top prospects in the game.
"I'm seeing some really good pitching and facing some really good arms," Meyer said. "Every time you go out to hit, it's against a really good guy, and it's fun to play at that high-competition rate."
Meyer hasn't done anything offensively to raise many eyebrows among scouts, though he does have some pop in his right-handed bat. He slugged a career-high 15 home runs last season in 129 games for Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .260 with a .318 on-base percentage.
He struggled out of the gate last season, hitting .165 in April before batting at a .321 clip in May to get him back on track for the season. Meyer hit particularly well against left-handers, batting .343 in 105 at-bats against southpaws.
"The first month was a little rough, getting adjusted to the league and seeing guys over and over and over again," Meyer said. "Really, one of the biggest things was adjustments to pitching and adjusting to the things they were trying to do to you. It was kind of a cat-and-mouse game. You have eight teams in the league, so you see these guys a lot."
While Meyer focused on making adjustments in 2013, he's ready to tackle whatever challenges he faces next year.
"This offseason, I'm going to figure out what I need to do to get to Triple-A next year and come to Spring Training in good shape and try to grind through the offseason the next two months," he said. "I want to come to Spring Training early and really try to make adjustments in Spring Training you normally make, and hopefully that works out."
With Dominguez in front of him and Rio Ruiz, the club's top third-base prospect, coming off a solid season as a 19-year-old at Class A Quad Cities of the Midwest League, Meyer said the increased talent in the organization can only help everybody.
"There's a guy in front of you and there's a good guy behind you, and a guy behind him," he said. "That's how it feels. It's a little bit more pressure with players, and that is making us play better. You know there's a guy coming behind you that wants that spot and [wants to] keep that spot.
"You have to relax and go and play, but play hard. It's incredible how our organization is right now."