For the first time in a quarter of a century, Minnesota has the chance to have another player suit up and play for his country.
Gophers freshman All-American closing pitcher Max Meyer was one of 34 players invited to compete for a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
“We think he’s one of the best freshman pitchers in the country,” USA General Manager of National Teams Eric Campbell said. “We think he has a real legitimate shot to compete for one of our bullpen jobs.”
Meyer was one of five freshmen invited to try out for the national team.
The national team’s tryouts are held June 25 through July 2 in North Carolina. The tryout consists of a five-game friendly series against Chinese Taipei, according to Campbell.
After tryouts, the team will select their final 24-person roster and take on Japan in several games starting July 3, and then play a series against Cuba.
“Words can’t describe it when you get these kinds of invitations. You really can’t put words into it,” Meyer said. “You’re going to get to be able to represent your country, which is a big honor.”
The Gophers have not had a player on the Collegiate National Team in 25 years. In 1993, Minnesota had four members of the baseball team make it. Catcher Darren Grass, infielder Mark Merila and outfielder Charlie Nelson played that year. Head coach John Anderson was selected as the head coach for the team that season as the fourth member of Minnesota baseball.
In 2018, Meyer stepped into the closing position for the Gophers with big shoes to fill. Brian Glowicki, the 2017 closer for the Gophers, set a single-season saves record with 16 in the season.
Meyer answered the call and tied Glowicki’s record. He was recognized as a third team All-American by Collegiate News, a Freshman All-American First Team and All-Big Ten.
In addition to tying the save record, the freshman struck out 54 batters and had an ERA of 2.06 for the Gophers.
“Getting on the big stage is what I think a lot of people live for,” Meyer said.
Coming into the season, the Gophers' coaching staff had high hopes for Meyer but were cautious with their expectations, like they are with all freshmen.
“You have to be careful with expectations with freshmen. We knew Max had some special talents, but we don’t know how they’re going to initially respond to Division-I competition,” Anderson said.
Anderson has been involved with the National Collegiate Team multiple times; he was the head coach in 1993 and an assistant coach in 1990.
Meyer said there were multiple factors that helped him succeed this season.
“Obviously you can’t do it without defense,” Meyer said. “Another thing is my mentality. I like to have a killer mindset… I think it’s important to have a lot of confidence on the mound.”
The Woodbury native has never feared away from a competition and his confidence has a lot to do with it, Meyer's high school coach said.
“The competitive nature about him starts with a lot of confidence," Woodbury Varsity Baseball coach Kevin McDermott said. “He shows that on the mound and really anything he does.”
Anderson recognizes Meyer's mindset and attributes it to his growth throughout his freshman season.
“If something doesn’t go right, he has the confidence to know that he’ll be okay, and [he] gets ready for the next opportunity,” Anderson said. “He took something from every outing and used it to improve himself.”
Although Meyer received many individual awards, his favorite moment of his freshman campaign was the postseason success the Gophers had.
“[The best moment was] making it to the Super Regional because that was the first time our program had ever made it,” Meyer said. “It really capped off a great season.”