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  • Alex Meyer's "Rough" Start

    Alex Meyer, probably throwing a really, really hard fastball.
    Courtesy of Kevin Pataky at MiLB.

    For a Twins fan, I had perhaps the best seat in the house. One row behind me -- same seat number in fact -- Minnesota Twins' General Manager Terry Ryan sat with a pencil, scorecard and notepad. In the two rows in front of me were radar guns, operated by a scout I didn't know, and by Rock Cats' pitcher Logan Darnell (who actually tossed a great game tonight). I saw the speed and location of every pitch. From right behind home plate I watched arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect since Johan Santana throw and I wasn't disappointed.

    I'm not going to lie. I was pretty excited for the game. And I can tell you, Alex Meyer is as advertised. I'm not saying he's a perfect prospect -- obviously he was far from perfect last night -- but I can tell you, from this small, small sample size, I have no doubt that the Twins made a great trade. Let's talk specifics.

    I watched Alex Meyer's worst Rock Cats start. The start was not bad. One inning was bad, and here's the rundown: Meyer's third inning started off with a liner out to center, and then a weakly hit roller down the third base line. Mark Sobolewski couldn't make the play, and it went for an infield single. Thereafter, there was a sharp single to right field, and Meyer must have become rattled, because he walked the next two batters. He clearly was off -- the missed fastballs to righty batters were up and out, not even close to strikes. There was a mound visit. In other words, something with both his composure and control was off. That second walk resulted in a run, and the next batter singled on, what I remember to be, a sharply hit grounder to the hole between shortstop and third base. The next batter hit a legitimate sacrifice fly to left, and all the sudden it's a 4-run inning.

    Meyer's fastball throughout his start was consistently 94-95 and hit 96 multiple times. His stuff wasn't slower, or weaker, during that bad third inning, and his velocity was just as good out of the stretch. He simply lacked control and precision during those 20 minutes. One takeaway: AA players can hit a 96 MPH fastball down the middle, when they are expecting it. Meyer's breaking stuff -- see this excellent piece from the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore -- was consistently around 79.

    Here's the best part of the story -- and also the reason why I have no concern with Alex Meyer: that third inning was an aberration. Instead of giving up as Terry Ryan and other scouts watched him scuffle, Meyer battled and pitched 3 more innings, walking 0, allowing one single and striking out three. Rather than throw in the towel, Meyer demonstrated in innings 4-6 that he is the genuine article; he can be what we expect him to be.

    Alex Meyer dominated most of the hitters he faced. There were many embarrassing swings, many called strikes that baffled batters and many weakly hit grounders and fly balls. And I will note (as a fan, not a 100 percent objective observer), that Meyer did get pinched on a few pitches in that rough third inning. I did hear a couple of groans from Mr. Ryan.

    So here's the bottom line, based on this one Alex Meyer start: he throws really, really hard, and it intimidates batters. . The fastball reached 96 on a night when it was in the low 50s in Connecticut (he has reached 98 in better weather). He has a great knuckle-curve that breaks down sharply. He didn't give up an extra-base hit in his "worst" start, although there were a few deep fly balls. He did get rattled when he got in trouble in that inning, but again, the next 3 innings suggest that he can rebound from a rough frame. The "line": 6 inning, 4 earned runs, 5 hits, 8 Ks, 3 BBs and a loss. The real story: one very bad inning in front of a nerve-wracking crowd, and an otherwise dominating start. And one hell of a fastball.

    Please also check out New Britain Herald writer Matt Straub's write-up on this game here.

    One other strange item from last night: James Beresford, probably my favorite Rock Cats player this season, was tossed from the game. I've been asked a few times what happened, so here is the story as I witnessed it: To preface this story, I should note that going back to last season I really have enjoyed watching Beresford play. He is an above-average defender, and although he will never hit for big power, I have held out hope that he can become a singles and walk machine such that he can keep advancing up the system.

    James is on his way. As of tonight, he's batting .333 on the season after having to fight off a couple of other players at the last-minute for a starting role. He's taking good at-bats, is walking when he can and he had extra-base hits in consecutive games last week. In short, a good start for Beresford.

    Last night, in a mid-game at-bat against a tough LOOGY, Beresford took a fastball for a strike, which I believed (from my home plate vantage point) to be a few inches outside of the zone. He took longer than normal between pitches, speaking with the ump. The next pitch looked like it hit the outside corner, but Beresford also took that one, again speaking with the ump. The third pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt, which Beresford swung at. The ump rung him up, and James indicated that there was a foul tip. Nonetheless, it was a third strike for the third out. As Beresford bent down and undid his shin guard, some words must have been exchanged, because he was immediately tossed. So there's the story as I saw it.

    It was a strange game. I went expecting Alex Meyer to dominate, and he didn't. But at the same time, I saw just how scary and dominating he can -- and will -- be. Going from 96 to a wicked 79 mph knuckle-curve is devastating. Not many AA pitchers can do that. Twins fans, rest assured, I believe that this was a great trade. Nothing against Denard Span -- one of my favorite Twins when he was in uniform -- but Meyer will be an excellent return for many, many years to come.
    This article was originally published in blog: Alex Meyer's "Rough" Start started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Nice work. Thanks for sharing.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Great write-up. Thanks for the links, especially Amore's explanation of Meyer's knuckle curve, and how he developed the pitch. Good read.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Great article! I always like your insights into that team and I am glad Beresford has some fire in him.
    1. TwinsFanInPhilly's Avatar
      TwinsFanInPhilly -
      I agree - thanks for this report.
    1. MoonDog's Avatar
      MoonDog -
      Great to hear a firsthand account of the game and your experience surrounded by scouts and TR. I've been able to sit next to him for a few collegiate summer league games and it's fun to hear him talk baseball while he works. Also, it is great to see him still scouting, his true passion.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Thanks, guys.
    1. markos's Avatar
      markos -
      Thanks for sharing. Well done.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Great read and thanks for sharing. I think this first month we have been so spoiled with our top prospects performing so well we sometimes forget they are human. Meyers is going to be a beast!
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      I agree, thanks so much for the first-hand report! I wonder how much the two events (Meyer's giving up 4 runs and Beresford's ejection) have to do with each other...

      I may be 'getting out over my shoes a little', but if the 'Gameday' pitch locations are to be believed, Meyer's first walk (with runners at 1st and 2nd and 1 out) probably left him shaking his head... and it's not too surprising that the following sequence occurred:

      Attachment 3970

      I would imagine James had a pretty good view of these pitches and wonder if it had something to do with his chirping.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Good stuff TRex. I thought a few pitches could have gone for Meyer.
      I wonder what Beresford's pitch sequence looked like?
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      They are listed as right down the middle !

      Attachment 3971
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Great writing, Afar. I could "see" the stuff you were talking about.

      A few days ago I saw Met's pitcher Dillon Gee throwing what I believed to be a knuckle curve in an mlb condensed game video. They showed Gee throwing the pitch in super slo-mo, and it was really neat seeing how he gripped the ball with the forefinger jammed behind the seams, his middle finger behind the lead seam, his thumb behind the trailing seam, his elbow cocked back, hand behind his ear, palm facing third base. The forward rotation on that ball when it came out of Gee's hand looked like a good topspin tennis serve.

      If Alex Meyer has a knuckle curve anything like Gee's, we're all in for a treat when he gets to Minnesota.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Hey, I have been meaning to check a N.B. game soon, do you have a recommendation on a cheap hotel in the area and a good way to get there (no car) from NYC?
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Wow, the pitches were listed right down the middle to Beresford.

      Hotels: Hmm, there's a La Quinta inn about a mile away from the stadium. I bet it's pretty cheap. And as far as transportation, probably Metronorth train to New Haven, and I'm guessing that New Britain is on a busline.

      Let me know if you decide to go. Beer's on me.
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      Next time you have to sneak to the seat behind TR. Would have been interesting to see his notes.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      Next time you have to sneak to the seat behind TR. Would have been interesting to see his notes.
      I bet it's in invisible ink, in a scrawl readable only by himself, and even if you could see it, and read it, it would look like:

      • Meyer - 1z%885## 2o 3!!xyz 4 5zyx
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      I've heard he writes backward like da Vinci.
    1. Brodin4Calder's Avatar
      Brodin4Calder -
      Just think we might have a starting pitcher that can throw harder than 90mph soon. Ha the roto is horrible right now. Our opening day starter should be 4th or 5th in a rotation, same with the rest of our pitchers. The Twins do have a good future though. We have a couple top of the roto guys including Meyer who will be coming up and we have Sano and Buxton who could be annual all stars.
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