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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. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Wow, what a great draft position the Twins will have in 2013 and 2014! Without the run production of Denard Span, the team's run total may well decline by 30 or 40 runs. Aaron Hicks may prove to be a better defensive CF, but his inexperience with major league pitching will probably result in a frustrating year at the plate.

      Meanwhile, the Nationals will enjoy the services of a top-tier lead off hitter, and one of the most efficient, reliable center fielders in the game. Denard Span doesn't have a great arm, but what arm he's got he uses to best effect by getting himself into good position and making sure he's moving forward into the play. Span's professional attitude can only help the development of Bryce Harper, and his ability to get on base will provide plenty of opportunities to score runs for his new team.

      Alex Meyer looks like a good prospect, and the signature he drew on my baseball looked very nice. However, Denard Span looks a lot more like sure thing, which is why I'm sure the Nationals jumped on this deal. I think I might just spend more time watching the Nationals this season than the Twins.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Frankly, getting Meyer on board, along with May, Gibson doing what he did last season, and Sano/Buxton being there, along with some other minor leaguers I want to check out, plus wanting to see Rich Harden pitch is what makes me really excited about this Spring Training.

      One thing that has to be noted: Alex Meyer has the same grand total of pro seasons as Jose Berrios or Byron Buxton have under their belt: One. Still a lot of way to go and that way is up.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      Alex Meyer looks like a good prospect, and the signature he drew on my baseball looked very nice. However, Denard Span looks a lot more like sure thing.
      Denard Span was the second best CF in the Twins last season. He had an ok career with the Twins (when he did not fall asleep on the bases). He is one of those Twins who were better in the Dome than outside (check his numbers). The Twins sold high on someone that they had a lot of, and got something that did not have much of... Hicks/Benson/Buxton will be better than Span. Heck, Mastroianni might be able to do what Span did last year this year.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      It was a great trade for the Twins. Yes, we lost a great player, but we have – at least the chance – to have a #1 starter in a couple years. And the Nats get the leadoff player and CF they needed.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Re: AAAA catcher thread, I can't believe I wasted my time getting to page 5.

      Thanks for the article Seth. Meyer may only have one season in the minors, but it's pretty crazy to compare him to Berrios and Buxton (23 vs 18?). His college experience means something. I realize this is aggressive, but I'd like to see Meyer have a great year in AA and possibly get a September cup of coffee. I know it's more likely in 2014, but a guy can dream. Pitchers and Catchers, baby!!!
    1. Forever34's Avatar
      Forever34 -
      As far as I can tell there is only one thing not to like about this guy- hs agent Scott Boras.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Why is everyone so worried about Boras? He is a good agent but he'll sign a market contract.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Physics Guy View Post
      Thanks for the article Seth. Meyer may only have one season in the minors, but it's pretty crazy to compare him to Berrios and Buxton (23 vs 18?). His college experience means something. I realize this is aggressive, but I'd like to see Meyer have a great year in AA and possibly get a September cup of coffee. I know it's more likely in 2014, but a guy can dream. Pitchers and Catchers, baby!!!
      I don't think that's an unrealistic dream at all. That said, he doesn't need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2014 season, so unless he's fully ready, it doesn't really make sense to add him in September and use a spot that someone else could take. That's the reason I would think 2014 is more likely. But like you said, if he pitches great and shows he's ready and they know they won't use an option, then by all means, it could happen.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Why is everyone so worried about Boras? He is a good agent but he'll sign a market contract.
      Correct, but what he is very unlikely to do is sign a multi-year deal until Meyer is a free agent. That may prove beneficial to the Twins if he were to get hurt, but his clients typically go year to year to maximize their value.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Correct, but what he is very unlikely to do is sign a multi-year deal until Meyer is a free agent. That may prove beneficial to the Twins if he were to get hurt, but his clients typically go year to year to maximize their value.
      Actually recent history would suggest otherwise. Boras will do the first contract during arb years for a market rate. Especially for pitchers.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Dave Cameron at fan graphs listed it as one of the worst moves of the offseason.
      9. The Twins trade Denard Span for Alex Meyer.


      This trade ranked as my favorite off-season move from Washington’s perspective, and I’ll reiterate what I said about the trade last week: +3 win outfielders under team control for three seasons at a total of $21 million are worth far more than one low-level pitching prospect. If this was the market for Span, then the Twins simply should have kept him, allowed him to continue to show that he’s over his concussion issues, and marketed him as trade bait at mid-season, when contenders pay marked up prices to get talent for the stretch run. Meyer might turn into something special, so it’s not like this deal couldn’t work out for Minnesota, but Span wasn’t so expensive that the Twins couldn’t keep him, nor was he reaching a point in his career where he ceased to be useful to a rebuilding team. The fact that the Twins kept Josh Willingham, the oldest of their three outfielders, and shipped out the two younger center field options makes the decision even more curious.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Correct, but what he is very unlikely to do is sign a multi-year deal until Meyer is a free agent. That may prove beneficial to the Twins if he were to get hurt, but his clients typically go year to year to maximize their value.
      The Twins may decide to go the Oakland route: develop a young pitcher, keep him for 3-4 years while his salary is low, then trade him for multiple young pitchers. That strategy accomplishes the following: builds a pipeline of quality young pitching, builds a rotation comprised of young, lower salaried, less injury-prone, and easy-to-trade pitchers. Result: lower payroll, fewer pitchers requiring surgery, and less disruption of the rotation from the major league team down through the top minor league teams. A reasonable explanation of how Oakland can win a division on a tiny payroll.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Dave Cameron at fan graphs listed it as one of the worst moves of the offseason.
      ...from the nats side. Tells me that the twins believe Meyer is no ordinary prospect--his ceiling is elite ace. Still, he's just a prospect.
      When I buy a powerball ticket on occasion, I don't check if its a winner til well after the drawing. It feels good to have hope.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Physics Guy View Post
      Re: AAAA catcher thread, I can't believe I wasted my time getting to page 5.

      Thanks for the article Seth. Meyer may only have one season in the minors, but it's pretty crazy to compare him to Berrios and Buxton (23 vs 18?). His college experience means something. I realize this is aggressive, but I'd like to see Meyer have a great year in AA and possibly get a September cup of coffee. I know it's more likely in 2014, but a guy can dream. Pitchers and Catchers, baby!!!
      With one season under his belt, I highly doubt it. He doesn't have to be added to the 40 man for several more years. He could go Strasburg on AA and still likely start 2014 in Rochester.
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