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  • How Much Longer Will Alex Meyer (and Twins Fans) Wait?

    When Alex Meyer was asked, at Twins Fest, when he would like to make his big league debut with the Twins, he was pretty honest yet realistic. “I hope the first day, the first game of the season. Realistically, it’s nothing I can control. I’m just trying to make it tough for them.”

    And yet, he does have some control over it. He can perform. On Monday night, in front of Twins assistant GM Rob Antony, Meyer did a great job of making the decision to keep Meyer at AAA much more difficult.

    Facing Charlotte, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, Meyer went six shutout innings and earned his first AAA win. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out 11. In his previous start, at Pawtucket, he gave up three hits and walked three batters in 6.2 scoreless innings. He struck out 11 batters in that game, too. Just so you don’t have to do the math yourself, that is 12.2 innings, five hits, six walks and 22 strikeouts over two starts.

    He is making it tough on the Twins front office. Fans see those back-to-back shutouts in the box score. They’ve heard his name. They’ve read about the fastball that touches 100 mph (and the slider, and this new changeup grip taught to him by Red Wings teammates Yohan Pino and Deolis Guerra). They know that the Twins gave up Denard Span for him. Oh, and Twins fans have watched the current starting staff of the Twins post an ERA of 6.04, second worst in baseball.

    There are legitimate reasons to keep Meyer down for a little longer:

    First, we have to remember that he was limited to just 70 regular season innings last season because of a shoulder injury that cost him two months of his season. He threw more, and very well, in the Arizona Fall League, but overall, he worked fewer than 100 innings in 2012 so they do need to be supremely cautious with him.

    Second, although he has generally had pretty good control through his minor league career, he does have 11 walks in 26.2 innings on the season. He had 10 walks over his last three starts (16.1 innings). That is concerning since big league hitters are more patient and will be able to better determine which pitch he is throwing. As Twins hitters have shown this year, the “Walks Will Haunt” cliché is true.

    He has been using his new changeup grip for two starts now and the results have been quite favorable. However, having that pitch be a consistent pitch is really important. A third dominant pitch could make him an All-Star. It would not hurt at all to let him work on that pitch for another two or three starts.

    Of course, there is the business side of the game of baseball as well. That said, if the Twins called up Alex Meyer to make his major league debut on Sunday against the Orioles, he would be a four-year arbitration guy, but the Twins would control him for an extra season. Of course, the Twins have proven over and over in the past that they don’t often make decisions based on service time. However, Alex Meyer’s agent is Scott Boras, who generally is against long term deals before free agency, so it has to come in to play. To keep him away from arbitration for an extra year, the Twins would have to wait until early-to-mid June.

    Meyer is not on the 40-man roster. The Twins are currently at 40 men on the roster, so someone would either need to be designated for assignment or traded (the market for the trade-worthy options is quite limited). There are plenty of options to be DFA'ed on the 40-man roster, so this is a pretty minor inconvenience.

    Lefties Kris Johnson and Logan Darnell are both pitching well in Rochester as well, and they are on the 40-man roster. Darnell's season ERA is just 1.69 and he has 21 strikeouts (and just seven walks) in 21.1 innings. Johnson has a 2.86 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 22 innings.

    More importantly, you want to make sure Meyer is ready and doesn’t need to be sent down. You would want him to stay with the big league club and not use up an option to send him down. Again, this is hopefully a minor concern as you hope he would not need options in 2015 or 2016 or beyond anyway.

    Now, for the reasons why Alex Meyer should be promoted to the Twins. These are much more fun.

    Reason Number One… have you seen the Minnesota Twins starting rotation so far this spring? Kyle Gibson has made three (of four) solid starts. Phil Hughes' last two starts have been good. Ricky Nolasco has had one good start. However, the Twins starting rotation has an ERA greater than six, which is just awful. Kevin Correia is reminding Twins fans that although he was quite solid in 2013, we never understood that second season on his contract. Mike Pelfrey has been awful, and Twins fans are wondering loudly why he was signed at all, much less to the two year contract he did receive.

    The strikeouts are something we have seen very little of from a starting pitcher since about 2006 when Johan Santana and a rookie Francisco Liriano were dominating the league. The rotation is averaging an MLB-worst 5.12 K/9. Alex Meyer may walk too many when called up initially, but he will also miss a lot of bats. He is a guy who, even right now, could likely strike out eight batters per nine innings.

    Alex Meyer is going to be 24 years old through this season. He’s not a 19 year old kid. Meyer is very mature and credits his time at the University of Kentucky for helping him with that.

    There is no question that Will Middlebrooks was right to question whether there were actually five starters in Minnesota better than Alex Meyer. As I’ve pointed out before, I honestly don’t think there is even one starting pitcher in the Twins rotation who is better than Meyer right now. His upside is Justin Verlander. He is a potential Cy Young-caliber talent. Those guys are good to have in a big league rotation.

    This should NOT be a reason to call him up, but when he makes his big league debut, Target Field will be electric. He’s one of those players who will bring people in and fans can really be excited about.

    As easy as we like to think the decision to call up Alex Meyer right now is, it’s not. A lot has to go into it. The most important things that have to be considered when talking about whether Meyer should be called up now or in a month is what is best for Alex Meyer and the Twins. What is going to make Alex Meyer the best he can be? Is he going to be hurt by making three to five more AAA starts? Of course not. There is no negative to it. Would it hurt his long-term development if he is called up too early? I don’t know. No one knows.

    That’s why there is no “right” answer to this situation. With top pitching prospects, teams have used different strategies for when to call them up. Both sides of the argument have had successes and failures. It has to be a decision dependent on the individual.

    One thing I do know is that I personally can’t wait until Alex Meyer is in the Twins starting rotation. I think most of us can agree on that.

    Also at Twins Fest, Meyer said, “I want to show that whenever they’re ready for somebody, I’m just hoping that I’m the guy that is ready to come up.”

    At the very least, he’s done that!

    Feel free to discuss, and make your projection for when Alex Meyer is promoted to the Minnesota Twins. I'll say... June 6.
    Comments 152 Comments
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Now I'm all excited too.
    1. RiggityRez's Avatar
      RiggityRez -
      I guess if it were up to me, if we see two more awful starts from Correia or Pelfrey, along with two more quality starts from Meyer, I think you bring him up. The Twins are in contention, lets see if they can keep it that way for awhile. It has been fun to watch, I can only imagine that it has been fun on the field and in the dugout. Reward the kid for pitching well and the players for winning more games than they have lost.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Send up one of the lefties, to spread out the log game at AA/AAA of LHP starters. If after 4-5 starts Johnson/Darnel can't hack it, then send up Meyer. If they show they are Major league ready, Than a Gibson, Meyer, Darnel back 3 is the beginnings of a rotation on a contender.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by maxisagod View Post
      Send up one of the lefties, to spread out the log game at AA/AAA of LHP starters. If after 4-5 starts Johnson/Darnel can't hack it, then send up Meyer. If they show they are Major league ready, Than a Gibson, Meyer, Darnel back 3 is the beginnings of a rotation on a contender.
      I don't get this fascination that you need to have a lefty in the rotation at the expense of a more talented starter. I hope that the Twins are able to get Meyer and Deduno into the rotation in the next month since they are the only non-rotation options that have a chance at being better than average.
    1. twinsin17's Avatar
      twinsin17 -
      Seth I share your excitement for Meyer. I'd like to see him hone his change up for the time being in AAA and see him as a later season call up, however. If he can nail that pitch down it will make his transition to the bigs much easier. No doubt he represents an upgrade over Pelfrey and Correia but it is more likely Duffey or Johnson gets the call first in the event of an injury or demotion given their spots on the 40 man and the fact that we have no LHPs in the rotation currently. You said it best when you said there is no risk to have him continue to make AAA starts. Since Meyer represents the future of the rotation and we realistically have a much better shot at contending 3-4 yrs down the road than this or next season I think an extra year of control is extremely valuable for the team in the long run.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      First of all, I am excited about Meyer as well. He was my pitcher to click and Colabello my batter. He has great stuff but a 3.48 ERA isn't really anything to be excited about, he is learning a new pitch and unless you think he is going to cause the Twins to contend all year promoting him now at the possible cost of a year of having him at all much less a year of control is hardly worth rushing him. 2nd of all but someone please correct me if I am wrong, right now he is the 4th most effective starter in Rochester's rotation!! Darnell has a 1.69 ERA in 4 starts. Kris Johnson in 4 starts has a 2.86 ERA. Pino in 2 starts has a 1.17 ERA. If you are going to judge performances this early then why start with Meyer?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      The Twins already have the extra season of control of Meyer. To gain an additional year of control at this point Meyer would have to stay in AAA until mid April 2015. If he was called up before July (floating date) Meyer would go to arbitration a year early though and potentially earn 5ish extra million.
    1. zchrz's Avatar
      zchrz -
      If his changeup has really taken that big a step forward with the change in grips, I would like to see him get a few more AAA starts to work on that. A nasty change opposed to an average one would make him an even better pitcher (3 + pitches coming with from the sky with his velocity and build puts him in the possible ace category).

      It seems like he would have a better chance to hone that pitch (that he has thrown for 2 starts now) in the minors, to be called up in a month or so when he has fully forced the issue.

      If they want more immediate help Deduno is there, Johnson in pitching well, Darnell is pitching well, Pino is pitching well. Its a shame May hasn't preformed because he probably would have had the first shot.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Sorry, Seth, if they're going to wait until June, they're going to wait until mid to late June. Super 2 isn't safely escaped from until the summer solstice!
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      If he's on an innings limit, why would you burn those precious innings in AAA? I'm all for waiting until he's ready. But if he's got nothing left to learn at AAA, bring him up.

      Also, this contract stuff is nonsense. He'll get a long-term deal long before he's arbitration eligible.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Does his service time start when he's called up or is it the cumulative time. For example if he were to hit a innings limit in August and being shut down for the season would that cut off a month of time?
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      If he's on an innings limit, why would you burn those precious innings in AAA? I'm all for waiting until he's ready. But if he's got nothing left to learn at AAA, bring him up.

      Also, this contract stuff is nonsense. He'll get a long-term deal long before he's arbitration eligible.
      Agreed, the FO will pay the man his due to keep him.
    1. TKGuy's Avatar
      TKGuy -
      I think a couple more starts at AAA working on the change up might be helpful. Sure he probably walks too many also, but it's helpful that he can get out of jams by himself with the strikeout
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      My guess as to what will happen (not to be confused with what I might want) is that first will come the Pelfrey-Deduno swap. After that, the shopping of Correia. Meyer will take that spot, which puts this in late June at the earliest. That would be my guess.

      I would not feel bad to be proved wrong.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sconnie View Post
      Agreed, the FO will pay the man his due to keep him.
      Boras does have that track record of his clients hitting free agency, but maybe we can arrange a conversation with Alex getting life lessons from Kendrys Morales, and Stephen Drew. Take the $$!
    1. kdrupp09's Avatar
      kdrupp09 -
      Seth touched on it some in the article, but I believe the Twins will also attempt to line it up so that Meyer may get 2 straight starts at Target Field because the atmosphere/environment will be electric. Not saying that this will really influence the decision, however I do believe if they have to give Meyer an extra AAA start in order to line up 2 straight starts at home for Meyer they will.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      He's 24, not 19. He'll be 30 when they would lose him, not 26. But I expect them to keep him down "to be more consistent with his changeup" before coming up. I expect Pelfrey to continue being awful (as he has been the majority of his career, btw). I expect the value of Meyer's future starts to be low, since they'll cycle through much worse pitchers and start losing more. But hey, in the future they'll have the best players up right away, really.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Also, this contract stuff is nonsense. He'll get a long-term deal long before he's arbitration eligible.
      I might be wrong but I don't believe there's a single instance of Boras doing this with a high profile client.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      If we go through two or three more times in the rotation and guys haven't had better results, some changes need to be made. I doubt Meyer will be the first one up as much as I wish he was. I'm very excited to see him. If he puts up a couple more starts in a row like his last two however, it would be very hard to not bring him up.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I expect the value of Meyer's future starts to be low, since they'll cycle through much worse pitchers and start losing more. But hey, in the future they'll have the best players up right away, really.
      I don't think this is fair. The Twins have certainly jerked around players in the past but if the player looks to be an unstoppable talent, he hits the Majors pretty quickly. Joe Mauer was up in his age 21 season. Liriano was up in his age 21 season. Arcia was up in his age 22 season. Hicks was named the starting CF in his age 23 season. Sano would have made the Majors in his age 21 season if not for the injury. Buxton has a shot at making it to the Majors in his age 20 season and almost certainly will be in Minnesota for his age 21 season.

      As excited as I am to see Meyer, he has five AAA starts and he's still walking a few too many batters. There's absolutely nothing wrong with giving him a few more starts to see how the new changeup shakes out over more than two dominant starts.
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