Drew Meyer is still chasing his dream of playing in the major leagues, and now he's hoping a fresh start will get him there.
After spending the better part of the last seven seasons in the Texas Rangers' organization with approximately one month of big league service to show for it, Meyer recently signed a minor league contract with the Houston Astros.
"It's a good opportunity with a good team," said Meyer, a former Bishop England and University of South Carolina standout shortstop. "It's a good situation. A fresh start with a new team. I felt like I kind of got in a rut with the Rangers. Same old, same old every year."
Meyer was a first-round pick by the Rangers in the 2002 draft, the 10th player taken overall, and virtually labeled a "can't miss" prospect.
Unfortunately, it's been more miss than hit for Meyer, who just never seemed to catch a break with the Rangers.
He spent the majority of the last four seasons with the Oklahoma RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League, the Rangers' Class AAA affiliate.
"Obviously, I've thought about that a lot," Meyer said. "Things just didn't click for me there. I kind of got caught in a rut and they seemed to pass over me and started going after these younger players. The last couple years, I thought they called up some guys and made some moves that a lot of people were questioning. Young guys that weren't necessarily ready for the big leagues that had maybe played a month total of AAA. But that's the game. That's just part of it.
"I think after a few years with the Rangers I kind of got put on the back burner and was more of an insurance policy in the minors and wasn't looked at as a guy who they thought could help them in the big leagues. There wasn't much I could do at that point."
With the Rangers, Meyer was penciled into a utility role, playing shortstop, second base, third base, even an occasional stint in the outfield.
After minor league spring training with the Astros, Meyer will be assigned at either the AA or AAA level and will be a regular at either shortstop or second base.
"We like the fact that he can play second base, he can play shortstop," said Ricky Bennett, director of player development for the Astros. "He can move around the diamond, and being a left-handed hitter there are not many guys who can do that. So that's to his advantage. I told him, 'Hey, you're going to get an opportunity to play. We didn't sign you to sit on the bench. Whether it's AA or AAA, you're going to be in the lineup every day.' "
That suits Meyer just fine.
"They want me to get out there and get a lot of at-bats and be a regular in the infield," Meyer said. "I don't care whether it's AA or AAA. If they've got a guy in the minor league system who they like, they're not hesitant to call him up and give him a shot.
"I like that they're a National League team. That sort of fits my role more being a speed guy and a defensive guy. With the DH, the National League is more defense and playing small ball and that fits with what I try to do."
Meyer got a taste of what it's like in the major leagues when the Rangers called him up in April 2006.
He joined the team on a road trip at Seattle, but didn't get in a game. When the team returned to Texas for a homestand, Meyer walked in the clubhouse one day and saw his name on the lineup card.
Rangers teammate Phil Nevin generously allowed Meyer's family use of his box suite for Drew's major league debut.
With his family rooting him on, Meyer went 2-for-5 in the Rangers' 13-7 victory over Tampa Bay.
"That was a special night," Meyer said. "And the next day I got a hit, so I started out 3-for-7. I was like, 'OK, here we go.' "
But things didn't go that way.
The Rangers used Meyer sparingly, mostly in pinch-hit situations, and he got only six more at-bats in three more games before being sent back down to AAA approximately one month later.
"My innings were scattered," Meyer said. "In a blowout, they'd just throw me in there. It wasn't ideal. I wasn't ready. When you sit on the bench for two weeks straight and all of sudden in the ninth inning they just pop you out there, it's not that easy. Then some injured players got healthy and they sent me down."
Meyer could get a better shot with the Astros.
"The one thing I've told him is that this is an opportunity for him ultimately to get to the big leagues," Bennett said. "There's obviously some reason why he hasn't gotten to the big leagues at this point, but we want to give him the opportunity to continue that goal."
One thing that Meyer has learned from his baseball career is that there are no guarantees.
At Meyer's home, he has a framed newspaper article from when he was drafted coming out of high school in the second round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"On the front page, there was a little box that had the players that were picked first by each team," Meyer said. "I was looking through the names the other day, and I was like, 'Man, I've never even heard of about 20 of these guys.' Timing is everything in baseball. It's all got to come together if you're going to make it. I don't know if I will, but right now, I still feel there's a future for me in this game."