WASHINGTON, Pa. (August 14) – Big news has become official for the Washington Wild Things as they’ve had a player’s contract purchased for the 43rd time in franchise history and the third time in 2021. James Meeker, a right-handed pitcher, has been signed by the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization.
He becomes the third Wild Thing and third Pittsburgh native to be picked up this year. The North Allegheny product joins LHP Austin Kitchen (Mt. Lebanon, Colorado Rockies) and LHP Sean Kealey (Baldwin, St. Louis Cardinals) as Next Level Things this season. Meeker is also the fourth Wild Thing to have his contract purchased by the Brewers in team history.
James leaves the Wild Things after an extraordinary start to the season. In 30 games, Meeker had worked 31.2 innings without giving up a run, had given up only 17 hits and walked 10 while fanning 43 batters. The 31.2 scoreless innings this season added to 2.1 innings to end 2019 scoreless, giving Meeker the franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
Now he’s off to the Brewers’ farm system.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone involved with the Wild Things organization, top to bottom, for an unbelievable experience the last few years,” said Meeker. “I’m beyond excited to join the Brewers’ organization and take the next step in my baseball career.”
Meeker touted a highly-successful career at North Allegheny High School, where he became the first freshman pitcher to pitch in a varsity game in program history, threw the school’s first perfect game as a senior and helped the team to a WPIAL baseball championship the same season, before entering the college ranks. He played at Akron with former Wild Things Dom Iero and Josh Lapiana, Trinity HS product Joey Havrilak and current Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher JT Brubaker before the school folded the baseball program. James transferred to Delaware, where he finished his collegiate career with three seasons with the Blue Hens. As a senior, he was 4-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 26 games (1 start).
He then came to the Wild Things, where he pitched in 19 regular-season games on the team’s journey to the Frontier League playoffs and championship series appearance in 2018. That year, he posted a 3.94 ERA in 19 games across 29.2 innings of work. In 2019, Meeker pitched in 40 games and in 54 innings punched out 57 and posted a 3.17 ERA.
In 2020 during the COVID pod at Wild Things Park, Meeker didn’t allow a run over 7.2 innings with 12 strikeouts in eight appearances for the Slammin’ Sammies.
Then 2021 began.
For Wild Things’ team president and general manager Tony Buccilli, the journey has been a fun one to watch for Meeker.
“[Meeker’s] journey has been rooted in hard work and patience. He approached every season as an opportunity to better himself and contribute to the team,” said Buccilli. “We are so happy that a club like Milwaukee values his abilities. Hosting Meeker and his family over the years has been special and it’s so rewarding to see another WPIAL athlete and Pittsburgh native chase his dream.”
Tom Vaeth said the baseball player and person will be missed, but that he and the club are excited for what’s next for Meeker.
“We are very happy and excited that Meeker has finally gotten this opportunity to continue his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. Although he will be extremely missed by myself and everyone else in our clubhouse, we cannot wait to see what lies ahead for James,” said Vaeth. “He did a great job for us coming out of our bullpen but the thing I most admire is the type of person he is. He was a quality person first and foremost and was such a great teammate and positive influence to everyone with the Wild Things.”
Meeker has been assigned to Low-A Carolina, where he hopes to progress in his first taste of affiliated ball. The Wild Things wish him the best in the continued pursuit of his dream.