• What's the Plan: Alex Meyer

    When they acquired him in exchange for Denard Span last winter, the Twins envisioned Alex Meyer as a power arm with front-end upside that could be plugged into the big-league rotation within a year or two.

    Unfortunately, although he has pitched well enough while on the field, his first season as part of the organization hasn't clarified a whole lot regarding his future. Meyer missed a full two months due to shoulder soreness and just recently began easing back with short stints in the Gulf Coast League to rebuild arm strength.

    On the plus side, the right-hander has demonstrated the ability to dominate this season. His 10.8 K/9 rate ranks second in the Eastern League among starters with 50-plus innings, and before being sidelined by injury he was holding opponents there to a .225 average with only three homers in 61 frames. Then again, some of his other numbers -- like a 3.69 ERA and 1.31 WHIP -- were less sensational.

    And the missed time really muddles his situation. Had he stayed healthy, Meyer may have been positioned for a late-season promotion to Triple-A, where he could have proven himself prepared to compete for a spot in the Twins rotation next spring. Instead, he might be able to make two or three starts in the Eastern League before year's end, but he'll finish the season with well under 100 innings and no sustained pattern of outstanding results.

    Their porous rotation filled with low-velocity contact pitchers, the Twins are badly in need of an arm like Meyer's, and as soon as possible. But how quickly can they realistically bring him into the fold?

    The Aggressive Route

    A September call-up is probably out of the question given his situation, but Meyer needs innings. By pitching in the Arizona Fall League, he could continue to build strength, then compete for a rotation spot in spring training next year if he's deemed ready.

    The Twins have proven far less willing to promote pitchers directly to the majors from Double-A than position players, but Meyer has a huge arm and many scouts have expressed that his stuff could play in the majors right now. Next spring he'll be 24 years old, an age where many high-end college-seasoned pitching prospects have already debuted in the big leagues. And, as mentioned above, the Twins really need him to make an impact next year if they're going to get things turned around. The sooner the better.

    The Conservative Route

    A decent argument could be made that Meyer ought to start back in Double-A next season. He'll probably end the year with around 75 innings thrown in the Eastern League, and despite his big strikeout totals his overall performance there has not been flat-out dominant the point where a promotion is a no-brainer. His control needs work and -- to borrow one of this organization's pet terms -- he needs to build more consistency from outing to outing.

    To play things safe, the Twins could let Meyer wrap up his 2013 season with a few more outings, then rest up during the offseason and report back to New Britain at the start of next year. If his performance dictates, he can work his way up to Rochester early in the season and vie for a promotion to the majors in the second half. (This approach conveniently might help him bypass the Super 2 deadline.)

    The Likely Route

    I doubt the Twins will throw their most prized pitching prospect into the major-league fray until he has thoroughly proven through his production in the minors that he is completely ready. Having him repeat Double-A next year seems like overkill -- he will be 24 and his peripheral numbers suggest that he's more than ready for the next level -- but opening the 2014 season in Rochester seems realistic and reasonable. This would provide Meyer with a chance to earn a call-up in the early months of the season, so that he could still potentially make a significant impact for the club.

    The scary thing here, really, is that achy right shoulder, which will require constant monitoring. The Twins can insist all they want that his injury was minor, but players simply do not miss a full third of the season because of minor injuries. It's nice to see Meyer back on the mound, and throwing well, but it will be difficult to have full confidence in his health going forward until he puts together an extended stretch of quality, durable performance. And until we see that, he probably won't be in the conversation for a shot at the majors.
    This article was originally published in blog: What's the Plan: Alex Meyer started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 56 Comments
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      I personally would like to see him back pitching in AA soon. For example, how about in Bowie next weekend?
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I think they give him the Gibson approach. Arizona fall league and start next year in AAA until he pitches with consistency.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Spot on. Meyers is a tough case. I feel bad for the FO, no matter what they do with Myers it could be the right decision or the wrong one. Lets see how that shoulder does in off-season, if it does well and ST goes well starting in Rochester makes sense to me
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      I wouldn't have him any further away than AAA next year, especially if they don't improve their starting 5 this off season.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      I wouldn't have him any further away than AAA next year, especially if they don't improve their starting 5 this off season.
      I can appreciate the sentiment here but quite frankly, the status of next year's rotation should have no bearing on Meyer. THe Twins will hopefully do what's best for him regardless.

      To me, that shoulder eliminates any shot of seeing him before June next year and I would imagine more of a late July call-up.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I can appreciate the sentiment here but quite frankly, the status of next year's rotation should have no bearing on Meyer. THe Twins will hopefully do what's best for him regardless.

      To me, that shoulder eliminates any shot of seeing him before June next year and I would imagine more of a late July call-up.
      Obviously if his shoulder is an issue that changes things but if it's not and their pitching isn't vastly improved then he should have good enough stuff to crack the rotation at point next year.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I can appreciate the sentiment here but quite frankly, the status of next year's rotation should have no bearing on Meyer. THe Twins will hopefully do what's best for him regardless.

      To me, that shoulder eliminates any shot of seeing him before June next year and I would imagine more of a late July call-up.
      100% agree... no matter what the Twins rotation looks like, they need to do what's best for Meyer. I won't pretend to know what the answer to that is. But, he did get 3 innings in the GCL on Wednesday. Maybe by next Monday or Tuesday, he can go 4 innings, maybe 5 depending on pitches. Then, I'd send him back to New Britain, still on a pitch count. I think the Twins will send him to the AFL. I think they'll sign the waiver which means he'd go there with no restrictions other than common sense.

      The key is his health. That's really all that matters. If he's healthy, I think he starts at Rochester and I think he could be up as early as June. That's pretty aggressive itself. There is no need to rush him. Age is not a factor. Shouldn't be, at least. If they deem he should spend a month in New Britain to start the season, there's really no negative in that at all. Let him dominate there for a month, then go to Rochester for a month or two.

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but doing the right thing (health-wise and promotion-wise) is the most important thing for these high-level prospects, regardless of what is going on with the Twins or around them.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If healthy, I would push for AAA next year. I have no idea what the twins will do.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      Obviously if his shoulder is an issue that changes things but if it's not and their pitching isn't vastly improved then he should have good enough stuff to crack the rotation at point next year.
      At some point, maybe. I just don't like the implication that we're judging Meyer by our other starters. He's most likely going to be better than any of them talent-wise. But our only consideration should be his readiness.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Not really disagreeing just saying if he's healthy then he should be ready or close to it and if the Twins can win more games with him than without him that should matter at least a little bit...unless they're on a course for another 90 losses
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      So is Meyer going to be on an inning limit next season? He only threw 129 innings last season, and only 65 so far this season. What is that rule of thumb about increasing a pitcher's innings from one season to the next?
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      I'd expect the plan for him to closely mirror Gibson's. Including a likely innings limit in 2014 following a mid-season callup.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      So is Meyer going to be on an inning limit next season? He only threw 129 innings last season, and only 65 so far this season. What is that rule of thumb about increasing a pitcher's innings from one season to the next?
      Its often a 60% increase.
      So if he manages to throw 100 this year, you wouldn't want him throwing more than 160 next year.
      Of course that is not a hard line, its a case by case basis. But, I think this is why he needs to go to the AFL. If he can get up to 130+ combined innings, then he should be fine to throw a full workload next year.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Its often a 60% increase.
      So if he manages to throw 100 this year, you wouldn't want him throwing more than 160 next year.
      Of course that is not a hard line, its a case by case basis. But, I think this is why he needs to go to the AFL. If he can get up to 130+ combined innings, then he should be fine to throw a full workload next year.
      There is also the thought you don't "reset" innings but can increase upon the season total before the injury season.
    1. Cris E's Avatar
      Cris E -
      I'd do AFL this year and then start at AA in 2014 and move him up as performance dictates. There really shouldn't be anyone standing between him and Target Field, so let his development be your guide. He needs his skills to ripen, but empty innings at any particular level for the sake of "paying dues" is dumb.
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      If he does goto the AFL, what is that considered a near equivalent to minors-wise? AA? AAA? AA+?
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpitefulRabbit617 View Post
      If he does goto the AFL, what is that considered a near equivalent to minors-wise? AA? AAA? AA+?
      I'd say it's about the equivilant of AA, with it being a little easier than that for hitters, and a little tougher than that for pitchers (just due to the fact that some pitchers maybe tiring a bit by that time of the year, while some hitters are really getting into a "groove" by then.)
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpitefulRabbit617 View Post
      If he does goto the AFL, what is that considered a near equivalent to minors-wise? AA? AAA? AA+?
      The rules of the league say that a team can send 6-7 players and just two of them can be from lower than AA, so the talents is at least the AA level, and some of the prospects are great.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I am hesitant to send him to the AFL this fall--why not just conclude 2013 was a lost year and let him rest.

      Definitely start him in Rochester in 2014--no need to spend another year in AA.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      The Twins did promote Kyle Lohse from AA, as well as Brad Thomas and I think Adam Johnson. But they were pretty AA crazy back in 2001.

      Oh, and Scott Erickson back in 1990!
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