Injuries force former first-round MLB pick from Kentucky to retire

Multiple arm injuries have ended what once seemed likely to be a promising Major League Baseball career for former University of Kentucky star Alex Meyer.

The 2011 first-round pick by the Washington Nationals, who last pitched in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, announced his retirement from baseball on Instagram on Tuesday.

“I never thought in 2017 I was throwing my last pitch, but not everything goes how we expect it to,” the 29-year-old Meyer wrote. “After multiple surgeries and countless hours of rehab, the end of the road for my baseball career has come. ... I’m going to miss baseball and the relationships I made over the years, but it’s time to head home and get ready for the next chapter of my life.”

Meyer’s last MLB start came on July 19, 2017, when he pitched seven shutout innings in the Angels’ 7-0 win against the team that drafted him, the Nationals. He gave up one hit and one walk while striking out seven batters.

Meyer had to undergo surgery later that year for a labral tear in his right shoulder that was reported to require a 12-month recovery period. He had gone on the Angels’ disabled list on July 24, 2017 — shortly after that final stellar start — with right shoulder inflammation. “He progressed to playing catch in August, but was shut down when his shoulder flared up again,” MLB.com reported.

Earlier this month, The Orange County Register reported that Meyer had “recently had a setback and has stopped throwing again.”

For his three-year major-league career, split between the Minnesota Twins and the Angels, the 6-foot-9 right-hander from Greensburg, Ind., was 5-8 with a 4.63 ERA in 22 appearances that included 19 starts.

Meyer pitched for Kentucky from 2009 to 2011. He was 13-12 with a 4.72 ERA in three seasons. His breakout junior year included a 7-5 record, 2.94 ERA and a Southeastern Conference-best 110 strikeouts.

Meyer was the 23rd overall pick by the Nationals in 2011. He was 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA in two minor-league stops in 2012 before being traded in the off-season to the Twins for Denard Span. He went on to post a 26-23 overall record with a 3.52 ERA in six minor-league seasons.

Dennis Varney is the assistant sports editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. He is a Pike County native and Western Kentucky alum. He has also worked at The Times of Northwest Indiana, The Seattle Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.