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  • TD Twins Top Prospects: #5 Alex Meyer

    Age: 23 (DOB: 1/3/90)
    2012 Stats
    A/A+: 129.0 IP, 2.86 ERA, 139/45 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP
    ETA: 2014



    Generally speaking, the best trades are the ones that both sides can be happy about. Of course, for fans, the best trades are the ones where your team ripped off the other team. In late November, the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals finally reached an agreement on a deal that would send Denard Span to the nation’s capital in exchange for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer. The Nationals got the centerfielder and true leadoff hitter that they have been looking for, while the Twins got an upper echelon power pitching prospect that they have been yearning for.

    Another frequently-used cliché used any time there is a trade is, “To get something good, you’ve got to give up something good.” Denard Span played a terrific centerfield in his five seasons with the Twins. He also hit .284/.357/.389 (.746) with 90 stolen bases despite missing time due to his 2011 concussion. Span has a very team-friendly contract in which he will make $11.25 million over the next two seasons and has a $9 million option for 2015. He will be an important cog for a Nationals team that has aspirations of a World Series championship in 2013.

    For a team that has lost 195 games over the past two seasons and had one of baseball’s worst pitching staffs the last couple of seasons, obtaining high-ceiling, top-of-the-rotation starting pitching is crucial. The Twins acquired just that when they received Twins Daily’s choice for the Twins #5 Prospect, Alex Meyer.

    Alex Meyer was the 20th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008 out of his Indiana high school. He and his parents (with the assistance of advisor Scott Boras) turned down a $2 million signing bonus and chose to attend the University of Kentucky. When he went to college, he had a lot of development to do. His delivery and arm action needed to be helped. It’s not unusual that such tall, long pitchers take quite a bit of time to find a consistent release point and be able to repeat his pitches. Kentucky’s coach, Gary Henderson, develops a lot of credit for Meyer’s development. Because if it, when the 2011 draft rolled around, Meyer was the 23rd overall pick by the Nationals, a compensatory pick from the White Sox for signing Type A free agent Adam Dunn. As much as the Twins liked him, there was no way he would fall to 30th pick where the Twins took Levi Michael. Meyer (and his agent, Boras) was still able to get his $2 million signing bonus.

    In his professional debut, the Nationals decided that it was best of Meyer to be sent to Low A Hagerstown. He went 7-4 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. In 90 innings, he walked 34 and struckout 107 (10.7 per nine). He was promoted to High-A Potomac where he went 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. In 39 innings, he walked just 11 (2.5 per nine) and struckout 32 (7.4 per nine)


    The Good

    When it comes to projectability, Alex Meyer tops the charts. At 6-9 and just 220 pounds, he has room to grow, to get bigger and strong, and even throw harder. That’s impressive when we are already talking about a guy who throws 94 to 96 mph and can reach back and hit 98 at any time. If you watched the Futures Game last year, he even hit 99 mph. He also has a very good slider that he throws at 85 to 89 mph. That fast became a swing-and-miss pitch for Meyer. In the last couple of years, he has really developed his changeup. It is a good pitch that has good sink. He also throws a knuckle-curveball that continues to need development.

    At Kentucky, Meyer was a teammate of Twins minor leaguers Logan Darnell (6th round, 2010), Lance Ray (8th round, 2010), and Taylor Rogers (11th round, 2012). It’s interesting to get their perspectives on the 23-year-old right-hander.

    Darnell and Meyer were teammates for two years. He said, “He (Meyer) is a great guy, good teammate and a very talented player! He throws in the mid-to-high 90s with a very good slider, and a pretty good changeup. He’s excited to be a Twin too.”

    Ray added, “Really excited about having the opportunity to play with Meyer again. He is a really talented pitcher, and I can’t wait to play defense behind him. Meyer is a guy who can dominate the game when he is on the mound.”

    What were the qualities that the Twins saw in him to make him a target, willing to give up a talent like Span for him? According to Twins Vice President of Player Pesonnel, Mike Radcliff, “Meyer has the physical attributes to be a top-of-the-rotation starter which is arguably the most difficult commodity to acquire. His present stuff and pitches, along with an evolving maturity to apply his talent, give him a very high ceiling.”

    Radcliff added, “Frankly, we don’t make this trade if there was not a high level of conviction that he can reach the performance levels of an impact starting pitcher.”

    The Bad

    According to Radcliff, Meyer will have to “overcome the normal hurdles. He will have to gain more command of his fastball. He’ll have to find the usability of his complementary pitches.”

    Again, tall, lanky pitchers typically struggle with release point consistency. It’s something that Meyer will have to overcome. Consider that Randy Johnson, one of the top handful of pitchers in the past 30 years and someone who should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The hard-throwing 6-10 lefty got to the big leagues for four starts as a 24 year old at the end of the 1988 season. In his age 25 season (1989), he walked 5.4 per nine innings and struck out 7.3 per nine. In 1990, he walked 4.9 per nine and struckout 7.1 per nine. In 1991, at age 27, he walked 6.8 batters per nine innings, although he did raise his K-rate to 10.2 per nine. And, in 1992, he walked 6.2 per nine and struckout 10.9. After turning 29 years old, he never walked more than 3.8 per nine. From 1999 (age 35 season) to 2009 (age 45 season), he never walked as many as 2.9 per nine.

    No, I am not saying that Meyer is going to be the second coming of Randy Johnson, just that patience with any pitcher, much less a very tall pitcher is very important. To see that he walked just 3.1 batters per nine innings in his first professional season is certainly encouraging.

    Radcliff added that Meyer will need to develop a couple more things that really can only be developed over time and innings. “The development of his physicality and mound presence to produce the innings potential and production of a rotation stalwart will also be key.”

    The Bottom Line

    Alex Meyer is 6-9. He throws a fastball that approached triple digits and has two or three pitches that are also considered plus-plus pitches. After developing a lot in college, he showed good progress in his first professional season. Many scouts have indicated that he has also shown a very good maturity, and a very professional approach.

    One question we hear often is where Meyer will begin the 2013 season and how quickly he can move up the system and be in a Twins uniform. Mike Radcliff says, “As a newcomer to the system, we need to see and interact with him in spring training to gauge his present ability to compete. New Britain looks like the natural starting place.”

    The Twins traded their starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter to the Nationals to acquire Alex Meyer. The Twins needed top-end starting pitching in the system, and Meyer certainly represents that. He is a Top 100 prospect in all rankings, appearing in the Top 50 in many.

    One person who has seen Meyer pitch several times recently told me, “He (Meyer) has the best raw stuff of any guy the Twins have had in a long, long time.”
    This article was originally published in blog: TD Twins Top Prospects: #5 Alex Meyer started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Once again Seth, excellent article.
      Sure have high hopes for this guy. Would be great to have a pitcher who we feel confident that there is a good chance to win the game everytime he takes the mound.
      2013 should tell us a lot about him.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I am excited about Meyer, but the point about needing patience should be concerning. Meyer is after all a Boras client, so an extension that gives the Twins a couple extra years is unlikely. If the Randy Johnson model is comparable, he'll likely walk for a large contract after his first standout year.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Nice to read an article with a positive tone. This guy has huge upside, and its kind of weird to be talking about him as only the #5 prospect.

      Regardless of any stats or quotes or anything else, the surest proof of Meyer's legitimacy is that he was traded straight up for Span.

      Here's hoping this article can generate 4 pages of posts. If a negative nabob post about a AAAA waiver wire catcher can, this one sure should.
    1. MidwestMeat's Avatar
      MidwestMeat -
      Great article.

      I also love his upside but am nervous what early success would mean with Boras as his agent. Can't imagine he would be a Twin for long..
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Han Joelo View Post
      Here's hoping this article can generate 4 pages of posts. If a negative nabob post about a AAAA waiver wire catcher can, this one sure should.
      Wouldn't that be nice to see on a positive article?
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Seth--once again great article. For me Meyer is the key to this offseason--he could be a Twins ace for the long-term that we havent had since the 90s. Nats fans here didnt like losing him (even for Span) and now feel worse with the Gio issues in the latest drug scandal.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Reading a lot of Nationals' sites/articles, it's a very mixed bag on the trade. Some like it, others despite it and think it was crazy to give up Meyer for Span. It's the same with Twins sites. It's all about potential, and Meyer has incredible potential.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Thanks Seth, appreciated this report. When I first heard of the trade, I immediately thought a right handed Randy Johnson. Remember commenting on that over at TT. Looked up Johnson's numbers at same age/level. It is scarry how similar they were and if my memory is correct, Meyer was actually a bit better.

      I also think the Twins know a lot about this young man as they certainly have scouted UK a lot with all the players they have from there over the recent past. Was Albers also still there when Myer was a frosh?

      I wounldn't worry a lot about the Boras relationship. Assuming they bring him up during the season they will have him for at least 6+ years. You all can worry about that in 2021!
    1. nfisch22's Avatar
      nfisch22 -
      I really thought it was a win-win trade for both teams. The Twins got much needed pitching depth and the nationals got their CF. Obviously we're gonna miss Span but trading away an area of strength for an area of need was a great move by the front office
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Meyer is the #2 or #3 prospect for the Twins.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      I can't wait to watch a Twins rotation led by Meyer and Berrios. I'm not sure that May will ever have good enough control for the Twins standards and I think he probably ends up a late inning reliever.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      > After developing a lot in college

      Basically just a quibble, but I don't believe Meyer developed in such an unusual way that going from a 20th rounder as a high schooler to 1st round after college is out of the norm. He would surely have developed a lot had he signed the first time. Teams often use their late-round draft picks to go for high schoolers they expect will turn down any pro offer at that time, for the chance to offer him a good bonus and see if his mind changes. If somehow they could have put a gun to his head, a team might very well have drafted him in the 1st round that time too. I know you know all this (and probably more ), so as I said I am just quibbling about how you presented it in case a more casual reader came across it. Oh, and with the new bonus slotting rules that started last year, I guess we'll see less of this in the late rounds and more of it around round 10 or so?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Wouldn't that be nice to see on a positive article?
      I'm no fan of unrelenting negativity, but this is apples-to-oranges. That other article was "could the team go this one way, instead of the other". This one is "this guy sure looks good". Not much to say in response except "yup yup, he sure looks good." Well, maybe someone will bang his stick on the ground that they never should have traded Span, or that the trade should have netted them Dylan Bundy, but this is one of those rare instances of near unanimous opinion that they needed to trade from strength for pitching prospects not yet ready for the majors.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Yup, yup, good trade. I agree with the above, how do you get four pages out of an article like this? I suppose we could argue the ranking......that is probably the only point of controversy.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      I'm no fan of unrelenting negativity, but this is apples-to-oranges. That other article was "could the team go this one way, instead of the other". This one is "this guy sure looks good". Not much to say in response except "yup yup, he sure looks good." Well, maybe someone will bang his stick on the ground that they never should have traded Span, or that the trade should have netted them Dylan Bundy, but this is one of those rare instances of near unanimous opinion that they needed to trade from strength for pitching prospects not yet ready for the majors.
      He really struggled early in college both with pitching and control, but also in terms of maturity and such. By the time he left Kentucky, he actually had pretty decent control and pitches that looked to be pretty dominant.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      I'm sure it's just a sign of shifting from "getting old" to "being old," but ever since their arrival, I've found myself having trouble keeping straight which is which of Meyer and May. Between them coming in similar fashion at almost the same time, having kinda sorta similar last names, the fact that everyone seems to want to put an 's' at the end of both of them...etc, almost every time I see one of them referred to, I have to take a moment or two to really think about which one it is. I am hopeful that I get to look forward to this confusion being relevant for the next decade or so.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      He really struggled early in college both with pitching and control, but also in terms of maturity and such. By the time he left Kentucky, he actually had pretty decent control and pitches that looked to be pretty dominant.
      Perhaps the Twins should be offing a contract to the Kentucky pitching coach then
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      I don't think that the agent factors in as much on a player that is in the minors and you control when he comes up. As much as i would like to see him pitch, a couple years in the minors makes a lot of sense. Hopefully June 2015. Good trade for both teams
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      He is one guy that I am willing to be patient on. I would like to see him start in AA and then see what happens.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      only time will tell if this was a good trade. for this year???...... unless span doesn't play at all..... i guess meyer will lose round one. paralyzed by hope is a common condition.
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