When the Twins acquired Alex Meyer in December it marked a turning point of sorts for the organization. Denard Span had been one of the more popular regulars in the Twin Cities going on 6 years. This turning point was about more than sending Span out of town, though. Trading for a true power arm prospect was somewhat out of character for an organization that had recently become known for targeting soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact type hurlers. When G.M. Terry Ryan added Alex Meyer it seemingly punctuated a new trend in the organization’s effort to add well… more pitching in general, but particularly strikeout pitchers and guys who throw hard. Meyer does both these things and he isn’t far from helping Minnesota win ball games.
Meyer was an Indiana high school arm with some big helium attached to his name in the Spring of his Senior season. 6’7” high school kids throwing mid 90’s tend to attract the attention of scouts. There were questions about signability, but Boston took a chance on him in the 20th round. The Red Sox offered $2 million but he turned it down to go play at Kentucky. Meyer was on everyone’s radar when he showed up on campus. He was widely expected to be one of the first players taken when he’d next become draft eligible after his Junior season. Despite electric raw stuff he struggled his freshman year. Over his college career Meyer continued to improve his game and he was rumored to be going very high in the 2011 draft. He grew (now listed at 6’9” ) and filled in, getting stronger. Talent evaluators still had some questions about his command and future role, though, and that let him fall to the Nationals picking 23rd overall.
Meyer mostly uses a four seam fastball grip. When I saw him in Spring Training he worked 93-95 mph. On Tuesday he was 96-97 early and settled in to sit 94-96. The four seam has some life to it but Meyer also sprinkles in a two seamer that has a good amount of late arm-side run. The exceptionally tall right-hander gets great plane with his height and he stays on top of his pitches well. His best secondary offering is a knuckle curve with 11-5 movement. The curve has tight spin, good depth and fairly late break. Meyer is capable of throwing his knuckle curve for strikes or as a chase. He can also comfortably drop it in backdoor to right-handed hitters. He showed no reluctance at all throwing the pitch in different counts and it generates lots of swings and misses. I saw great feel for the curve and it’s going to be a plus pitch at the major league level. For an offspeed offering Meyer uses a circle change that flashes strong fade and drop. He slows his arm a little on the change, but he generally has good feel for the pitch and can throw it for strikes. Meyer actually consistently has shown me better command of his secondaries than his fastball.
When discussing a player with such a huge frame you often find a lack of athleticism. Many pitchers I see that are 6’5″ and up tend to be lumbering, unathletic specimens. Meyer has a well proportioned body and isn’t really a bad athlete. He gets off the mound quickly and can field his position some. So while I don’t know that I would point solely to athleticism, Meyer does have trouble repeating his delivery. Demonstrating another quality that is typical of these big pitchers, Meyer just has such long levers that it’s difficult for him to keep his timing consistent and all his body parts in synch. He does throw with a bit of effort in his delivery but I’m not sure that toning it down a few ticks would help here – or is necessary. Meyer can be effective as-is and at times dominating without really fixing his command issues. When going well he has enough control of his fastball to be effectively wild in the zone.
If things click for him Meyer can easily be a 2-3 starter. The stuff, velo and approach to the game are all here for that. If Meyer doesn’t polish the rough edges of his game I think he’ll probably be one of those exciting arms who teases us with 2 starter stuff but often gets 3-4 starter results. As a worst case he would certainly fit well in the late innings out of the bullpen.
The Path to Playing Time
Meyer and New Britain teammate Trevor May are two bright lights in the upper minors of an organization that is starving for pitching. Kyle Gibson and May are both quality arms but lack the upside Meyer offers. The Twins thought highly enough of Meyer to accept him as the straight up return for Denard Span. They’ll surely give him every chance to prove he can be a big (pun always intended) part of the future in Minnesota.
- On 40 Man Roster: No
- Options Remaining: 3
What to Expect
- Mixed League Value: Strong. Lapses of fastball command will hurt him and may prevent him from reaching his ceiling. Still, Meyer can dominate when going strong or facing bad lineups. There will consistently be a good amount of strikeouts.
- AL Only League Value: Strong. Consistent source of strikeouts.
- Ottoneu Value: I wouldn’t count on him as a staff anchor any time soon but Meyer offers enticing upside down the line.
Mike Newman of Fangraphs looked at Meyer last May in this article.
Thanks for reading – AS
Many thanks to Jeff Dooley and the New Britain Rock Cats organization for courtesies extended
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