CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The tall, rangy Texan walked into one of the dugouts at Perfect Game Field Monday morning and leaned against the fence that protects the dugout’s occupants from any errant balls. Casey Meisner, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound right-handed pitcher who is completing his senior year at Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas, was settling into his element.
Meisner was at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Monday for the 15th annual Perfect Game Pre-Draft Showcase, an event that attracted nearly 50 draft eligible prospects all looking for another opportunity to perform in front of the MLB scouting community before the First-Year Player Draft, which begins this year on June 6.
“I’m trying to get myself (selected) higher in the draft and … this is one of the last Perfect Game showcases that they have before the draft, and it’s coming up quick,” Meisner told PG Monday morning. “This is the last actual competition that I’ll face (before the draft) and there are (a lot) of scouts out here, so it’s good to make a name for yourself.
“It brings the scouts out and it’s a chance to show off what you have and there’s nowhere else like it,” he continued. “My last couple of showcases I haven’t been up to where I’d wished I would be; sometimes you just don’t have your stuff.”
It’s been a rare occasion when Meisner hasn’t had his best stuff. PG ranks him the No. 93 national prospect (No. 11 in Texas) in the 2013 high school class, and on Monday he was eager to show the scouts he belonged in any discussion involving the draft’s early rounds. He has already signed a letter of intent with Texas Tech.
“I feel great, I got a good night’s rest and I ate a big breakfast,” he said a couple of hours before he was scheduled to pitch. “I know what I have to do out here; I’ve got to come out and focus and shut everybody down.”
If there is one piece of that statement that might have provided the most music to the scouts’ ears it was the part about eating a big breakfast. Meisner simply hasn’t been able to pack any pounds onto his 6-foot-7 frame, although it’s not due to lack of effort.
“I eat a ton,” he said with a hint of exasperation in his voice. “I eat five meals a day, I eat as much as I can, and I’m still as skinny as possible; I can’t figure it out. Protein, working out – I’m trying to get up to 200 (pounds) and I can’t get off of 185 where I’ve stayed for the last year. I’m hoping that after the draft and once I get into the summer (someone will) bulk me up and put some pounds on me.”
When reminded that gaining weight most likely won’t be a problem as he grows older, Meisner laughed and added, “They tell me, ‘Just wait for it, it’ll come.’ I can only hope.”
Meisner came into the Pre-Draft Showcase as a top-200 overall draft prospect and the No. 16 overall draft prospect with a Texas connection. Right-hander Kohl Stewart (No. 1 overall) from St. Pius X High School, left-hander Tyler Alexander (No. 11) from Carroll High School and righty Thad Lowry (No. 13) from Spring High School are the only prep pitchers listed ahead of Meisner in the PG Texas MLB Draft Preview.
In his report, PG VP of Player Development David Rawnsley wrote of Meisner:
“(Meisner’s) early velocity burst did give scouts and the cross-checker who were in early more reason to dream on the very projectable right-hander. Meisner’s breaking ball is a 73-75 mph curveball that isn’t a present average pitch but one that he does a good job of throwing for strikes and spotting low in the zone, and he also throws a reasonably good changeup.”
When asked Monday what scouts or coaches have told him he needs to work on to further his progression, Meisner was direct in his answer:
“What they want me to improve on is locating my off-speed (pitches) a little bit more,” he said. “I’ve been working on that in my bullpens – my changeup, I’ve got a good feel for that now – and I’ve got to keep my same arm speed on everything; I can’t tip any pitches.”
Meisner’s senior season at Cy-Woods didn’t go as well as he’d hope in terms of team success. The Wildcats didn’t win even half their games and struggled to score runs, and despite a 1.50 ERA, Meisner was the winning pitcher in only two games all season.
“I felt great all season,” he said. “No injuries; I feel healthy, feel strong.”
Meisner, who turns 18 on May 22, said his only real concern during the spring came from the fact that his fastball lost some of its velocity as the season progressed. He was hitting 94-95 mph early in the spring but it settled into the 91-93 range by season’s end.
“I think that was because I had just pitched so much and my arm was starting to get a little tired,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of weeks off and I’ve been working out and getting stronger and trying to build my muscles back up.”
He threw 92 at the Pre-Draft Showcase, the highest velocity he’s recorded at six PG events in which he was put on the gun. PG’s scouting report from the event read:
“Casey Meisner pitches from an over the top delivery, with a long loose arm action, and throws on a downward plane. Meisner had his fastball sitting at 89-91mph with it topping out at 92mph to go along with his curveball at 74 mph.”
The Pre-Draft was Meisner’s seventh PG event since 2011 when he was first scouted as a 16-year-old pitching for the Ohio Warhawks at the PG WWBA 2011 Grads or 18u National Championship; his fastball touched 90 mph at that event. A little more than three months later he pitched for the Warhawks at the 2011 PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., where his fastball sat between 84-88.
He was particularly impressive at the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis when he showed off a 91 mph fastball, a 73 mph curve and a 75 mph changeup. His scouting report from the National read:
“Tall lean build (with) developing strength. Tall on-line multi-piece delivery, high 3/4's arm slot, throws downhill. Upper 80's fastball, topped out at 91 mph. … Good curveball spin, 11/5 shape with good depth, throws curveball for consistent strikes with feel, slowed body on soft change up.”
After the PG National, Meisner pitched at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and then returned to the PG WWBA World Championship, this time pitching for the talent-rich Texas Scout Team Yankees. His Yankees teammates included PG All-Americans Jon Denney, Billy McKinney and Sheldon Neuse.
Meisner was named a 2013 Rawlings 2nd Team All-American in early March. He was a 2012 Perfect Game 1st Team Underclass All-American last year.
He made his commitment to Texas Tech and first-year head coach Tim Tadlock after also considering LSU, Texas A&M, Texas, Houston and Sam Houston State, among others. Meisner said he called coaches from many of the schools that expressed interest in him and asked them pointedly, “Why should I come here?”
“They all explained to me why – this, that and the other – and what stuck out to me most with Texas Tech was the way they talked to me and the way that they treated me,” he said. “They actually seemed like they weren’t just saying this stuff. They said I would have a good opportunity to come in be developed, and that’s what I’m looking for whenever I (play professionally) or go to my college is to be developed so that I can go to the next level.”
After Meisner signed his LOI, Tadlock said in a news release:
“He is a power arm with a big league body (and) if we can get him to campus he will be a potential Friday night starter.”
There’s that whole question of getting him on campus again, as the Tech coaches and Meisner himself contemplate what surprises the June MLB amateur draft may hold. He can rest comfortably knowing he showed the scouts everything he had at most every opportunity, including this week’s PG Pre-Draft Showcase.
“I’m thinking about it … and it is coming up quicker than I expected,” Meisner said. “It comes up just like that – you’re thinking it’s still two months away, it’s still a month away, and now it’s three months away. I am thinking about it, of course – it’s a big thing, it’s a life decision. I’m going to do what feels right and if everything works out the way it should than everything will be all right.”