• 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. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      As much as I hate to participate in the comment section of a website that practices censorship I guess I can't resist at this moment. I remember reading a piece about Meyers prior to his shoulder problems. The piece talked about his height and the fact that he has kind of a 3/4 arm slot. Then it talked about how the Twins were trying to "tweek" his delivery to create "downward plain". They were talking specifically about shortening his stride and changing his arm slot ever so slightly. My question is could those changes have led to him straining muscles in his shoulder that were previously used less with his old mechanics? Furthermore, why do the Twins feel every pitcher has to throw a sinker? This obsession with downward plain to me is like the obsession with hitting the ball the other way. Just because that works good in many cases for marginally talented players doesn't mean you should force the supremely talented players to conform to these ridiculous idea's about the 1 right way to do things. The Twins Way lol
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      As much as I hate to participate in the comment section of a website that practices censorship I guess I can't resist at this moment. I remember reading a piece about Meyers prior to his shoulder problems. The piece talked about his height and the fact that he has kind of a 3/4 arm slot. Then it talked about how the Twins were trying to "tweek" his delivery to create "downward plain". They were talking specifically about shortening his stride and changing his arm slot ever so slightly. My question is could those changes have led to him straining muscles in his shoulder that were previously used less with his old mechanics? Furthermore, why do the Twins feel every pitcher has to throw a sinker? This obsession with downward plain to me is like the obsession with hitting the ball the other way. Just because that works good in many cases for marginally talented players doesn't mean you should force the supremely talented players to conform to these ridiculous idea's about the 1 right way to do things. The Twins Way lol
      He already threw a sinker before we acquired him.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      My question is could those changes have led to him straining muscles in his shoulder that were previously used less with his old mechanics?
      I honestly believe that this is the root of many arm-problems across all of baseball.

      If a guy has thrown the same for 5, maybe even 10 years by the time he's this high in the minors, those muscles are trained to recover properly with how they are used. His mechanics might not be the best fit for what you look for, but they're going to serve the guy better than overhauling them completely, in my opinion. When you start tweaking with those muscle actions, the whole muscle-memory (whatever the heck you would call it) resiliency isn't going to translate they way it did before.

      Think of like a hitter. There's not a 'template' for having the perfect swing. You take the guys natural ability and motions, and work with them maximize them. Should be the same for pitchers. Something like changing an arm-slot for a pitcher is definitely messing with those natural abilities and motions.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Think of like a hitter. There's not a 'template' for having the perfect swing. You take the guys natural ability and motions, and work with them maximize them. Should be the same for pitchers. Something like changing an arm-slot for a pitcher is definitely messing with those natural abilities and motions.
      Isn't Dozier's recent uptick in hitting performance said to be due to some fairly major tinkering?
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Isn't Dozier's recent uptick in hitting performance said to be due to some fairly major tinkering?
      Good point, but I think the comparison is a little problematic, in that rarely does a change in a hitter's swing cause an injury that sidelines a person for months.

      That said there are also cases where adjustments in pitching motion have led to increased effectiveness; there's a reason all teams have pitching coaches.

      This whole debate reminds me of golf and the debate over the "perfect" golf swing. Sometimes you have very unconventional swings that yield good results and you should just leave it alone. Sometimes bad mechanics need to be corrected before a golfer can be truly effective. The trick is to know which case is which.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      Good point, but I think the comparison is a little problematic
      That really was my point.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Isn't Dozier's recent uptick in hitting performance said to be due to some fairly major tinkering?
      I wouldn't call Dozier's adjustments "Major Tinkering." As Parker discussed in his article last week, it was more a function of quickening his timing mechanism, not completely overhauling his setup/hands/hip rotation/etc...

      To quote that article:

      "Brunansky admitted earlier in the season that his approach is about getting hitters to have a feel for the swing rather than replicate something visually. Dozier’s problem, Brunansky diagnosed, was his timing."

      I'd call changing a guy's arm slot a pretty major adjustment as far as pitching is concerned. Changing when a guy gets hits foot down in the batters box to trigger hip rotation on his swing earlier, is not. Physically, that doesn't change anything, whereas an arm slot does for a pitcher.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      As much as I hate to participate in the comment section of a website that practices censorship I guess I can't resist at this moment.
      The only thing getting "censored" are policy violations. It's a very simple concept, don't violate policy, nothing gets censored.

      If you truly hate it that much, Rubechat is always open for business, they don't censor anything.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Heading back to New Britain.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Heading back to New Britain.
      Great news. Hopefully all goes well and we can look forward to a September call-up or AFL.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Mike Berardino ‏@MikeBerardino 21m Alex Meyer touched 98 on Monday. Being promoted back to New Britain

    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Mike Berardino ‏@MikeBerardino 21m Alex Meyer touched 98 on Monday. Being promoted back to New Britain
      Sounds like Meyer was being a little mean on those poor, over-matched teenagers in the GCL. In this particular case, though......wow, what great news!
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      I honestly believe that this is the root of many arm-problems across all of baseball.

      If a guy has thrown the same for 5, maybe even 10 years by the time he's this high in the minors, those muscles are trained to recover properly with how they are used. His mechanics might not be the best fit for what you look for, but they're going to serve the guy better than overhauling them completely, in my opinion. When you start tweaking with those muscle actions, the whole muscle-memory (whatever the heck you would call it) resiliency isn't going to translate they way it did before.

      Think of like a hitter. There's not a 'template' for having the perfect swing. You take the guys natural ability and motions, and work with them maximize them. Should be the same for pitchers. Something like changing an arm-slot for a pitcher is definitely messing with those natural abilities and motions.
      I disagree. HS and even college players simply don't log as many innings as minor and major league players. Someone with poor mechanics can avoid an injury with a lighter workload. They can also survive in HS and even college w/o throwing as many breaking balls which put more stress on the arm.

      I'm sure that there are some cases where tinkering causes injuries but bad mechanics are usually bad mechanics. I remember watching video of the relief pitchers from last year's draft. I wasn't against converting RP'ers to starters but I couldn't understand how a couple of those guys would last with a starters workload. My arm hurt just watching them and 2 of those picks have barely pitched this season.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      I disagree. HS and even college players simply don't log as many innings as minor and major league players. Someone with poor mechanics can avoid an injury with a lighter workload. They can also survive in HS and even college w/o throwing as many breaking balls which put more stress on the arm.

      I'm sure that there are some cases where tinkering causes injuries but bad mechanics are usually bad mechanics. I remember watching video of the relief pitchers from last year's draft. I wasn't against converting RP'ers to starters but I couldn't understand how a couple of those guys would last with a starters workload. My arm hurt just watching them and 2 of those picks have barely pitched this season.
      I don't disagree with this stance either, but to throw a bone, there are exceptions on each side.

      Alex Wimmers' elbow didn't blow up because of overuse when turning pro, for instance, and he also was regarded as having great mechanics when drafted.

      And there are guys with bad mechanics who have never had major arm problems. Like Chris Sale, for example.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      I don't disagree with this stance either, but to throw a bone, there are exceptions on each side.

      Alex Wimmers' elbow didn't blow up because of overuse when turning pro, for instance, and he also was regarded as having great mechanics when drafted.

      And there are guys with bad mechanics who have never had major arm problems. Like Chris Sale, for example.
      Of course there are exceptions but the big one is simply the act of throwing a ball overhand. Going from pitching every 7 days to every 5 days and longer seasons make things even worse.
    1. slightlydif's Avatar
      slightlydif -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      The only thing getting "censored" are policy violations. It's a very simple concept, don't violate policy, nothing gets censored. If you truly hate it that much, Rubechat is always open for business, they don't censor anything.
      or not
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