Meyers Adds to Relief Crop

The Cubs already had in place a good list of names that could perceivably fill a relief role at the big league level if called upon when they acquired right-hander Ryan Meyers from the New York Mets earlier this month.

With the acquisition of Meyers, 22, the club feels that list has the potential to expand.

"He looks like another guy to add to the relieving core," Cubs Director of Scouting Tim Wilken says of Meyers. "We had two (scouts) that were pretty solid on him.

"He's a pretty good-sized guy (6-foot-1, 195) and it seems like he's starting to put some things together. We know that he has some decent arm strength and that he had some decent success last year," added Wilken.

The two area scouts assigned to scouting Meyers last season were Billy Swoope and Billy Blitzer.

The Cubs officially acquired Meyers and OF Corey Coles for OF Angel Pagan back on Jan. 5. Meyers spent most of 2007 at Class-A Savannah in the South Atlantic League, where he posted 13 saves and a 2.14 ERA in 33 appearances.

He struck out 48 and walked 14 in 42 innings before receiving a promotion to Class High A St. Lucie in late August.

A 17th-round selection from Round Valley High School in Eagar, Ariz., in 2003, Meyers could be viewed as a late developer.

One reason is because it took Meyers three years in the Mets system before breaking into full-season ball. Another possible reason, Wilken says, is that Meyers hails from a remote area in Arizona.

"It's a kind of raw deal," said Wilken. "I've asked some people and they've said it could be one of those schools near a reservation."

Meyers features a fastball that is "anywhere from 91 to 94 miles per hour," Wilken said, plus "a curveball that's a bit of a work-in-progress pitch and a changeup that appears to be one of his out-pitches."

"His velocity seemed to increase last year," Wilken said.

There is currently no shortage of relievers at the mid and upper levels of the Cubs' farm system. Pitchers such as Carmen Pignatiello or fan favorite Billy Petrick would appear to be two of the more ideal choices for rounding out the Chicago bullpen, and both will be given an opportunity to do so in Spring Training.

Meyers could be another name to watch for in the near future, although it's likely that he'll begin 2008 at either Class A Daytona or possibly Double-A Tennessee.

On the off chance that he'll receive some looks as a starter, Meyers will have some experience in that area, too. He made 13 starts in the South Atlantic League in 2006, averaging just over four innings per outing.

The Cubs will have a better idea on Meyers' exact role when the Player Development staff sees him for the first time in Arizona in Minor League Spring Training.

"They'll look at him closely and see if there's any thought," Wilken said. "We'll let that takes its course naturally."

Since Wilken became Scouting Director in late 2005, the Cubs have swung trades for several minor league pitchers, many of them relievers.

Right-handers Kevin Hart and Jim Henderson were acquired last off-season, with the former going on to make his major league debut last September. More recently, the Cubs acquired RHP Marcos Mateo from Cincinnati for OF Buck Coats.

Some of those subtle acquisitions have gotten some people looking, Wilken said.

"It shows Jim Hendry's confidence in making these kinds of deals," said Wilken. "I'm proud of the way this trade went."

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