By Steve Roney
Denard Span has finally arrived, stepping into a gaping hole in the middle of the outfield and at the top of the lineup – but he didn’t come cheaply.
Going back to Minnesota is righty Alex Meyer, the 6’9” flame-throwing 2011 first-round pick out of the University of Kentucky. He spent this past season, his professional debut, making 18 starts at low-A Hagerstown and seven more at high-A in Potomac.
If you knew his name before today, there’s a great chance that you learned it while going to one of those games.
There’s another good chance, however, that we’ll be hearing his name again in a couple years – and depending on the state of the Nationals pitching staff, fans in D.C. might not like what they hear.
Meyer has been highly regarded for years, enough so to garner a reported offer of $2,000,000 to sign with the Red Sox as a 20th round pick out of high school in 2008. He rolled the dice and decided to become a Wildcat, earning that exact amount three years later from the Nats – one of 18 first-round picks to sign for that amount or higher.
The money was there for two reasons: His imposing size, and what that projectable frame meant to his pitch velocity, both current and future. The knock, as often is in these cases, was that Meyer didn’t always know where the ball was going when it left his hand.
In 129 innings during his first professional season, Meyer put up fantastic conventional (10-6, 2.86 ERA, 1.1 WHIP) and peripheral (3.09 strikeouts per walk, 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings) numbers.
Meyer’s debut was an unmitigated success – and though he left off in single-A, a big, 22-year old college product who has finally harnessed his almost unlimited power potential is the sort of pitcher that climbs the minor league ladder two rungs at a time.
Should he build off the momentum of his rookie season and put up numbers like this at each stop – which would certainly be no mean feat, but still – then Alex Meyer could be in the Twins bullpen by September of 2014, and starting by 2015.
With a good, young starting rotation and decent organizational depth, the Nationals front office was willing to part with that potential in return for a player that unquestionably makes the Nats a better, more well-rounded offensive and defensive team.
If anything, it’s a testament to how far the Nationals have come – in years past, Meyer would have been hope for the future. Instead, he was a valuable asset used to improve the team right now.
Even so, the saying goes that you can never have too much pitching, and teams don’t part with arms like Meyer’s lightly.
This trade was a win for the Nationals, especially since Span remains under team control for up to three more years.
Still, Washington’s new centerfielder was no gift – and nobody understands that fact better than the Nationals themselves.
WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.
Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.
Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.
Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight.
Ross showed no signs of the late April struggles that ended with a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. He yielded five hits and a walk while striking out six, and retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff single to begin the game.
By the time Seattle finally put multiple runners aboard, Washington had already opened a 10-0 lead.
Rendon's second-inning shot around the left field foul pole made it 2-0.
Then Werth, Harper and Rendon all connected in the fourth, helping the Nationals score seven of their eight runs in the inning with two outs.
MORE NATIONALS: WATCH: Werth, Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nationals win
The Nationals had a big day at the plate Tuesday night.
Washington hit four home runs, including three in an eight-run fourth inning, in its 10-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit two home runs – the first a two-run blast to left field in the second inning and the second a three-run shot to center in the fourth. He finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs.
Prior to Rendon’s second homer in the fourth inning, left fielder Jayson Werth hit a two-run blast to left field, which was followed by a solo shot from right fielder Bryce Harper in the next at-bat.
Harper’s homer was measured at 450 feet.
At the end of the fourth, the Nationals led 10-0, which also included an RBI single from catcher Matt Wieters and an RBI triple from shortstop Trea Turner.
Tuesday night’s contest was the first of a three-game home series against the Mariners, who play in the American League. The Nationals and Mariners also will play Wednesday and Thursday.
Earlier this season in a 23-5 win over the New York Mets on April 30, Rendon went 6-for-6 with three home runs and 10 RBIs to become the first player to accomplish that feat since at least 1913. He now has seven homers this season.
Harper’s homer was his 14th of the season, tying him for first in the National League with the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman. The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is first with 15.
Though he did not have a home run Tuesday night, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has 13 for the season.
MORE NATIONALS: 2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals