Results tagged ‘ University of Kentucky ’
“I was interested in baseball for as long as I can remember,” replies Alex Meyer, in response to when he first developed an interest in baseball. “I remember my mom signing me up for instructional league, when I was 5 years old, for the Greensburg Youth Baseball League. I was fortunate enough to play with all of my friends growing up.”
Another thing Meyer enjoyed growing up, was watching his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr, play baseball, saying, “He was the most exciting player to watch, and everytime I had the opportunity to watch him play, I did.” Now that Jr. has retired, Meyer states that Josh Beckett is his new favorite player. “I really like the way he pitches,” replies Meyer, “and the way he composes himself on the mound.”
Like Beckett, Meyer relies heavily on his fastball. “I love throwing the fastball. It’s my favorite pitch because I feel like you can spot up the most with that pitch.”
He must know what he’s talking about. In his most recent season for the University of Kentucky, Meyer recorded 110 strikeouts, and 2 complete game shutouts. (Both of which he led the team in.)
Before he recieved his College baseball success, Meyer attempted a few other sports. He gave football a shot, but after just one year decided that it really wasn’t the sport for him. Basketball and baseball was where his real interest lied. (Playing both in all four years of high school.)
“Basketball was something that I really enjoyed doing throughout the winter, and I felt like I had some success in it……”, says Meyer. “…….but I always figured baseball was where my future was.”
When it comes to basketball, there’s no question as to why he had success with it. In Meyer’s own words, “I’m 6’9”, and can do some crazy dunks.” (Enough said.)
Coming out of high school, Meyer was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round. However, he decided to attend college, saying, “I was set on going to school because at the time, it was the most important thing for me. I love baseball and if things were going to work out, I needed to get stronger and mentally mature and if that were to happen, it would benefit me more, I felt, than signing at that point in time.”
After making the decision to attend college, another decision was left to be made. Which college to choose? In the end, Meyer chose the University of Kentucky. “I knew that I wanted to play in the SEC because I felt that it was the best conference in the country and would get you ready for pro ball more than any other conference could. Kentucky was close to home (Greensburg, IN) and I wanted to make sure my family could come to my games. This made the decision easy for me.”
Getting back to the mention of family by Meyer, it is a very big part of his life. “I like to call my family before I get to the field and talk to all of them before I go into the locker room. I always make sure that I talk to my mom last because she always gives me words of encouragement that no one else does. She keeps me humble and grounded and I feel like [she] does a great job getting me ready for the game.”
Family was also a part of Meyer’s life on draft night. (June 9th, 2011.) As he sat there, patiently awaiting his name to be called, his family was there with him. When his name was finally called, as the 23rd pick in the first round by the Nationals, Meyer experienced a great deal of emotion. His initial thoughts being, “I was extremely excited to know that a team thought that highly of me. It was a great feeling for me to experience.”
Following the National’s selection, former baseball player Harold Reynolds stated, in reaction to the pick of Meyer, “He’s (Alex Meyer) the greatest pitcher to ever come out of the University of Kentucky.” When asked about his reaction to that statement by Reynold’s, Meyer replied, “That is a bold statement. I am very humbled to hear people say that, but, at the same time, I know I still have a lot of work to do. There have been some good pitchers [to] come out of the university…….to be put in a category with that group of people is pretty special.”
Meyer’s career in Professional baseball is just beginning. But, to the kids who’s baseball careers are just beginning, Meyer gives the following advice: “……make sure to work hard every single day, but the most important thing in baseball is to stay positive. The game has so much failure and it can be hard to bounce back at times, but if you stay positive, it can be extremely rewarding.”
Considering the fact that Alex Meyer went from an Instructional League in Greensburg, IN, to being drafted in the first round by the National’s, I’d say his advice is fairly accurate.
Big thanks to Alex Meyer for answering my questions.
You can follow Alex on twitter @AlexMeyer17
Got this from Alex in the mail:
For most people, a dream that requires hard work in order to obtain, isn’t a dream worth dreaming at all. The blood, sweat and tears necessary to reach the top, isn’t something that most are willing to go through. For Neiko Johnson however, hard work isn’t a burden. Ultimately it’s the contributing factor that will lead him to his dream of playing baseball in the Major Leagues.
Neiko began to appreciate baseball at an early age. “I became interested at the age of 4 when I would watch baseball with my father all the time.” Baseball was that special something that put a twinkle in young Neiko’s eyes. The thing that he knew, from that early age, he wanted to continue as he got older.
He continued to pursue his dream of playing baseball up into middle school, where he decided to give basketball a try. Although he enjoyed basketball, he decided to return his attention to just baseball. “…..I figured I was too small to play at a big D1 school, so I chose baseball which was ultimately my best sport.”
Neiko continued playing on up through high school. (The same high school that produced current Major League players Brandon and P.J. Phillips.) Whereafter he decided to take his talents to the University of Kentucky. “I wanted to play in the SEC-the best conference in the country-and UK was the only school that talked to me from the SEC.”
At UK, Johnson would make a name for himself due to his base stealing abilities. (Over a Ninety percent success rate.)
According to Neiko, if he wasn’t playing baseball he wouldn’t let the lightning fast speed that he possesses go to waste. “I would probably be an Olympic track star with the speed I have. I would be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money, haha.”
In the summers between each year of college, Neiko played in various summer leagues. Most recently, Neiko played in the Coastal Plains League, for the Edenton Steamers. During that summer for the Steamers, Johnson hit for a .307 average, which included 3 doubles, one triple, and eighteen runs batted in. He also used his speed effectively, successfully stealing 25 of his 27 steal attempts. (A 92.5 percent success rate.)
Neiko enjoyed playing in the summer leagues saying, “It was a great experience because you get a chance to play with new guys and meet new people. I have played in other summer leagues before that, so it wasn’t that different from school ball. Just not having to worry about school is a tremendous help.”
Neiko is continuing to work hard in his attempt to make it to the big leagues. When asked what it would mean to him to make it to the Majors he replied, “…..It has been my dream for years and I continue to work hard and stay dedicated so I can reach that goal. I know my mother is looking down from heaven, and I want to make her proud. She is my motivation and I continually work hard for her.”
It’s that kind of motivation, and determination to work hard to make his mom proud that makes me believe that Neiko will make it all the way, and play in the Majors one day. You don’t find guys every day who are motivated like Neiko is. His dream means so much to him. And thus, it’s hard to see him not reaching his goal, and succeeding in a baseball career.
Neiko’s advice to kids who are just starting out playing the game of baseball is, “…….to never give up and never let anyone tell you that you can’t be something. People will always hate and try to discourage you, but you have to stay dedicated and work hard no matter the circumstances. And of course listen to your parents and stay in school.”
Neiko’s advice works for anyone, of any age. Whether you want to be an athlete, a singer, or whatever, his advice is universal. The most important part being “……listen to your parents, and stay in school.” Doing just that, will ALWAYS enable you to succeed in wherever you want to take your life.
Big thanks to Neiko Johnson for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow Neiko on twitter @ThisIsNJJ
Just found out that Neiko Johnson signed with the Houston Astros Organization. That’s what chasing your dreams with all of your heart will do for you. Congrats Neiko.
Look what I recieved in the mail today (June 17th) from Neiko: