Part 1: Salinas | Part 2: Funk | Part 3: Johnson | Part 4: Patterson | Part 5: Olson | Part 6: Williams
ARLINGTON, Texas – Adam Meyer could have gone anywhere to play college baseball out of high school.
A polished 6-foot-2, 210-pound southpaw, Meyer's high school career at Azle was dynamic. He totaled a 2.19 ERA with 131 strikeouts in his career at Azle and had more than 30 significant collegiate scholarship offers.
It was his senior season at Azle that Meyer's career trajectory changed. He suffered an injury that required Tommy John surgery. Even with the diagnosis and potential to miss up to 18 months recovering from the surgery, Arkansas offered Meyer a spot on its roster.
Meyer redshirted the 2012-13 season in Fayetteville andn after returning to health, the Razorback pitching staff appeared to have a role for him as a left-handed specialist. The lefty reliever role – one Meyer has excelled for UTA – would limit Meyer in total innings pitched, an important aspect of returning his elbow to 100 percent after surgery.
He decided to transfer to Eastern Oklahoma State in an effort to work more innings and build up strength in his once electric left arm. Meyer worked 48 innings and turned the corner on his health, once again earning collegiate scholarship offers as a junior college option.
Then another obstacle entered Meyer's life after Eastern Oklahoma, a shoulder injury. It looked like his baseball career was over.
"Doctors told me my baseball career was over if they did surgery," Meyer remembered. "There were four or five doctors that told me my career was over."
He dropped out of college and moved close to the Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Center in Fort Worth, just in an effort to make his rugged rehabilitation more convenient. The next few months of Meyer's life consisted of rehab and recovery.
"The physical pain of getting the motion back from Tommy John may have been the worst part of it," Meyer said. "Just trying to get the full-range of motion back. It's a grind. You go in and start with one exercise, then the second day you add to it. By two or three months out, you are rehabbing and working out for two or three hours. They are tedious exercises that aren't fun."
Meyer, 24, worked his way back to health and was eager to get back on a mound to play the game he loves. A walk-on tryout opportunity at UTA allowed Meyer a chance to impress. He earned a spot on the roster in 2016 with the Mavs.
Meyer's career at UTA didn't begin the way he expected it as a former high school star in Azle. He worked a perfect 4-out appearance in the season-opening win over No. 7 Oklahoma State in his NCAA debut.
"That was the most nervous I have ever been," Meyer said. "That was my first experience coming back from Tommy John and getting at the level I could play at. That was a big moment for me, to physically be able to get back on the mound."
Meyer's 2016 wasn't pretty from a numbers standpoint – but that should be expected for someone pitching on a mound for the first time in two years. He had a 1-1 record and a 8.31 ERA in 17.1 innings. In league play, he allowed 21 runs in seven innings, denting his ERA.
His junior season in 2017 was much different. Meyer excelled as a key reliever out of the UTA bullpen. He appeared in 22 games with one start, notching a save and a 2.55 ERA in 24.2 innings.
Meyer opened the year with a start vs. top ranked TCU in the home opener, allowing a run in 3.1 innings, before working in three relief innings without an earned run vs. Louisiana Tech. Despite a 3.1 inning stint for a save at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Meyer was primarily used as a lefty specialist and became a vital piece of pitching coach Jon Wente's arsenal of weapons.
Now as a 24-year old, sixth-year senior, Meyer brings a veteran presence and maturity to the UTA clubhouse.
"I want to be more of a go-to guy," Meyer said about his goals for 2018. "I want a more versatile role, come in to the tight spots in the seventh or eighth innings. Every day is a new day and I can take it pitch by pitch. You can't dwell on the last pitch you made, or force it. I've grown maturity wise, learned how to handle situations better with runners on base. I've learned more and more about the game, pitching strategy wise, so I feel like I can create an advantage vs. younger hitters."
His rehab time did more than help him revitalize his body. Meyer had a career revelation during this stage in his life. He wanted to use his education and life experiences to positively impact others in the way the staff at Ben Hogan had done for him. It wasn't just physical rehab that interested Meyer, it was the importance of the mental aspect of his recovery that stood out.
"I want to do something with physical therapy and mental health of athletes that are going through injuries. I've been there and it is a struggle mentality. I'd love to be able to help those who have been in similar situations. My time at Ben Hogan had a big part of that. I know every single person there."
Meyer already has bachelor degrees in both marketing and management and will graduate with a Master's in Business Adminstration next year.
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