The lightning possessed in Jon Meyerring’s left arm becomes apparent the second you see him throw.
As his journey shows, Meyerring’s talent transcends seeing him in person.
The La Crosse Loggers’ relief pitcher and spot starter has shown flashes of brilliance during his time in the Northwoods League, and has hit some bumps along the way. Not bad for a player who two years ago was working toward the goal of a football scholarship and presumably had left the baseball diamond behind.
So how did Meyerring — a lefty who throws his fastball in the low-90s mph — find his way back to the pitchers mound? In a word: YouTube.
Meyerring, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, had just graduated a semester early from Western Iowa Community College. He had played for the school’s strong junior college football program as a running back and receiver, but a broken collarbone his freshman season halted his career. He played a little as a sophomore, but he felt that football wasn’t going to be in his future.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete wasn’t ready to be done with sports, though.
So he took a part-time job and starting throwing off a faux mound at a gym in Glenwood, Iowa, every night.
“I knew I was a lefty, and I knew I could throw hard in high school, I just didn’t know how hard,” Meyerring said Thursday during batting practice before the Loggers’ game against the Eau Claire Express.
After two months of honing his pitching, Meyerring acquired a radar gun and put together a highlight tape of him throwing at the gym. The video, featuring shots of him throwing into a net and the radar gun flashing speeds up to 93 mph, was posted to YouTube and Meyerring sent it out to coaches.
Soon, his phone starting ringing.
“I think my mom and dad were more surprised than I was,” Meyerring sad. “This was something I was just doing myself … so when they started hearing the calls they were like, ‘Wow.’”
One of the early suitors was Miami University (Ohio). The RedHawks sent a coach to Iowa to watch Meyerring throw, and after watching one of his gym sessions, the coach told Meyerring to visit the school in Oxford, Ohio.
After a short recruiting process, Meyerring was ready to get his athletic career going again on the mound. However, after a third spring away from the sport, the early returns for Meyerring weren’t stellar.
In 10 appearances for Miami, he threw just 5⅔ innings, allowing 10 hits, six earned runs and allowed opponents a .417 batting average.
Meyerring needed to see more live at-bats to improve, and that’s how found his way to the Loggers’ radar. A scout for the Chicago White Sox who knows Loggers pitching coach Tom Kinney told Kinney about the raw prospect.
The team saw Meyerring’s potential, and knew that the NWL’s schedule — teams play nearly every day from the first week of June to the second week of August — would provide the training ground Meyerring needed in which to grow.
With the Loggers, he’s thrown 30⅔ innings in 12 outings, struck out 26 batters and saved two games. His ERA ballooned to 6.45 after two sub-par appearances at Thunder Bay and at home against Rochester, but he recovered nicely on Monday with a four-inning showing in which he scattered seven hits and earned his lone win of the year.
“The biggest thing is just being consistent every time I go out and throw,” Meyerring said. “Throwing fastballs for strikes, that’s No. 1. And I’ve been doing that. Now it’s about working on the offspeed.”
Loggers manager Brian Lewis said Meyerring’s been working closely with Kinney on his breaking balls — a slider that’s coming along nicely, along with a curveball and changeup.
Lewis said the communications he’s had with Miami coaches are that they want to see Meyerring develop into a mainstay pitcher, one they can depend on for innings out of the bullpen or potentially as a starter.
“We think the best way for him to do that will be to command that slider,” Lewis said. “Even if he becomes a two-pitch guy, he’ll be able to have a lot of success in the bullpen.”
Resiliency and confidence are key traits for a pitcher. A bad pitch, a bad inning, whatever — good pitchers learn how to bounce back.
After fighting his way back into the game, Meyerring knows he has those down.
“Being here wasn’t something that I was even thinking about two years ago,” Meyerring said. “Being where I’m at now is cool by itself. So any situation in a game, it’s just like, ‘It’s your first couple years playing, you’re just catching up.’”