SOUTHINGTON — Kevin Meier did things the hard way because it was the only way.
The Southington resident graduated from high school in 1983 after a good baseball career with the Blue Knights, but he wasn’t on the radar of any colleges.
The hurler wound up walking on at UConn, where he threw a no-hitter as a sophomore. Eventually, he earned a scholarship at Georgia Southern before being selected in the 1987 Major League Baseball draft by the San Francisco Giants.
He went on pitch eight years in the minor leagues. From unrecruited to pro: Meier took the long road.
Three decades later, his goal is to bridge the gap between high school players and college coaches so someone else doesn’t fall through the cracks like he almost did. The 49-year-old Meier has started Planet Prospect, a recruiting service that’s an on-line liaison between prospective athletes and college coaches.
Planet Prospect helps high school athletes create their own web site, load it up with stats, grades, video and newspaper articles, and then email their link to any coach in the country. The web site, PlanetProspect.com, went live eight months ago and has already netted college scholarships for a few clients.
“I want to help these kids out,” Meier said this week. “I know how difficult it is to be discovered by coaches.
“I tell the kids it requires a little work,” he added. “It’s like doing a resume. We have to sell ourselves a little bit unless you are blue chipper. But if you want to play in college and get some money, it will take time to build a brand yourself.”
Meier has worked in ESPN’s network control department for 20 years. A father of three girls, he’s stayed involved in baseball by giving pitching lessons.
“I got into the concept for providing this service for athletes because I have spoken to a lot of kids,” Meier said. “I do private pitching lessons and a lot of kids asked me how to get recruited. They are looking for any advantage to getting a scholarship. There are other services out there, but I tried to make mine a little different and I want to start with the local kids.”
Planet Prospect is primarily for athletes in grades 9-11, but Meier said high school seniors, prep school and junior college athletes can also benefit. Meier added that collegiate walk-ons, as he once was, will also have a place at Planet Prospect.
Meier isn’t in the business of baseball only, by the way. He will help athletes in most sports.
“I’m not going to get rich off of this,” Meier said. “I just want to cover my costs. It’s fun and I love helping kids out because I know how difficult it could be.”
After making UConn as a walk-on, Meier played well for the Huskies for two years.
“I had a couple of pretty good seasons,” Meier said. “I got some looks in the summer leagues between sophomore and junior year since I wasn’t on a scholarship. Summer league was a good opportunity at the time. It worked out great and I got a scholarship because of it and eventually I got drafted by the Giants. I played eight years professionally. It was a wild ride coming out of high school not getting any scholarship looks and playing professionally.”
Meier played in the farm systems of the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. The right-hander threw in the high 80’s and low 90’s and made his living on pinpoint control.
Now he aims to pinpoint the next generation of athletes to the next destination on their journey.