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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. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      no, at this point it is more important to have your best players up, giving you a better chance to win games. Doesn't matter how many options you have, if you are 15 games under .500. I don't understand how that is hard to understand. Can you help me understand why it is better to have worse players playing (increasing your odds of losing), but to have more of them?
      Amen. I have seen many point to the ERA's of Darnell, Pino, etc. and suggest a long line exists between Meyer and the Twins. I see Johnson was called up for a double header, that is fine as calling up Meyer for one start would force a roster move. When it is time for someone to be called up for good, it has to be Meyer. I am not going to look at numbers after four starts, I am going to look at the big picture.

      Johnson - 28 years old. 940 IP, 4.23 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      Darnell - 25 years old. 576 IP, 3.98 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      May - 24 years old. 695 IP, 4.08 ERA, 10.7 K per 9.

      Pino - 30 years old. 1,055 IP, 3.79 ERA, 8.1 K per 9.

      Meyer - 24 years old. 234 IP. 2.88 ERA. 10.5 K per 9.

      One of these does not look like the other.

      Regarding an innings limit for Meyer, great point by CMAT. Why waste those in Rochester? Also, the longevity over the last 3-5 years of guys that throw upper 90's, a good amount of sliders, with a more violent delivery is not great. Maybe we only get 200, 400, or 600 innings of freakish numbers out of him. Get him up here.

      We are 1.5 games out of first place. Meyer and Deduno over Pelfrey and KC could make a reasonable rotation with upside.
    1. kdrupp09's Avatar
      kdrupp09 -
      Johnson - 28 years old. 940 IP, 4.23 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      Darnell - 25 years old. 576 IP, 3.98 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      May - 24 years old. 695 IP, 4.08 ERA, 10.7 K per 9.

      Pino - 30 years old. 1,055 IP, 3.79 ERA, 8.1 K per 9.

      Meyer - 24 years old. 234 IP. 2.88 ERA. 10.5 K per 9.

      One of these does not look like the other.

      I think it is important to note here also that although Meyer's future is brighter than any of these on this list, at least 1 (May) if not 2 (May, Darnell) likely have a future with the Twins as well. So another factor to consider for Meyer's promotion is does it make more sense from a roster standpoint or developmental standpoint to promote someone like May or Darnell.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kdrupp09 View Post
      Johnson - 28 years old. 940 IP, 4.23 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      Darnell - 25 years old. 576 IP, 3.98 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      May - 24 years old. 695 IP, 4.08 ERA, 10.7 K per 9.

      Pino - 30 years old. 1,055 IP, 3.79 ERA, 8.1 K per 9.

      Meyer - 24 years old. 234 IP. 2.88 ERA. 10.5 K per 9.

      One of these does not look like the other.

      I think it is important to note here also that although Meyer's future is brighter than any of these on this list, at least 1 (May) if not 2 (May, Darnell) likely have a future with the Twins as well. So another factor to consider for Meyer's promotion is does it make more sense from a roster standpoint or developmental standpoint to promote someone like May or Darnell.
      Frankly, Meyer is the only one that we know for sure. May is probably the only other guy and that is if he is consistent. Meyer, Nolasco, and Hughes are locks. Gibson is probably going to be here and we have plenty of money to spend on another.
    1. kdrupp09's Avatar
      kdrupp09 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      Frankly, Meyer is the only one that we know for sure. May is probably the only other guy and that is if he is consistent. Meyer, Nolasco, and Hughes are locks. Gibson is probably going to be here and we have plenty of money to spend on another.
      Is it really necessary for the Twins to go sign another and potentially block some of our young arms such as Kohl Stewart or Berrios?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      Johnson - 28 years old. 940 IP, 4.23 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      Darnell - 25 years old. 576 IP, 3.98 ERA, 6.3 K per 9.

      May - 24 years old. 695 IP, 4.08 ERA, 10.7 K per 9.

      Pino - 30 years old. 1,055 IP, 3.79 ERA, 8.1 K per 9.

      Meyer - 24 years old. 234 IP. 2.88 ERA. 10.5 K per 9.

      One of these does not look like the other.



      Johson is actually 29 (and turns 30 in October), he actually looks a lot more like Pino than the others. Clearly the best player is Meyer, and he has little left to prove at AAA. As many have already said, AA is really the proving ground for major league readiness, AAA is just the holdng pen for depth options. Let's go, already.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kdrupp09 View Post
      Is it really necessary for the Twins to go sign another and potentially block some of our young arms such as Kohl Stewart or Berrios?
      Those guys are in A-ball and have ETA of 2016 at the earliest. Also, you can never have enough pitching.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by DJL44 View Post
      Those guys are in A-ball and have ETA of 2016 at the earliest. Also, you can never have enough pitching.
      And Meyer and May? And, 2016 is only 2 seasons away......look, I wanted better pitchers this year, and last, but at some point, you gotta fix other spots. Now, if you want to sign Shields, and deal a legit starter for a SS, I'm all eyes and ear.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kdrupp09 View Post
      Is it really necessary for the Twins to go sign another and potentially block some of our young arms such as Kohl Stewart or Berrios?
      Rule of thump, one of your five guys will get hurt or fall off the wagon. A few years ago we had so much pitching we traded Matt Garza. Blackburn and Slowey are not what we thought they were and Baker has been hurt.
    1. terencemann's Avatar
      terencemann -
      Quote Originally Posted by kdrupp09 View Post
      Is it really necessary for the Twins to go sign another and potentially block some of our young arms such as Kohl Stewart or Berrios?
      Stewart is so young, I wouldn't worry about blocking him right now. What they need to worry about is finding better pitchers than their current rotation if they want to be a winning team in the next few years. My worry is not that, in the end, the current rotation isn't good enough, it's that this front office is not a good judge of how to spend money on pitching. If this rotation continues to suck all season and they go out and sign another Hughes, I guess I just give up.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Look, I'm a huge Meyer fan and supporter. I completely and utterly believe in him as a top prospect and an eventual stud pitcher. Not just from prospect rankings and box scores, but from watching a couple starts in the AZ league you can just see the velocity and hard downward plane of his stuff, as long as he just keeps his mechanics in check.

      And I think he just might be on a fast track to the Twin Cities. And I am beyond thrilled with his early start to the season. But a quick reality check please. His innings last year were, unfortunately, limited. He's been a consistent 3rd pitch away from dominance. Fortunately for him, and all of us, he just might have found that pitch. But can we give him more than 5 starts, 2 of them fantastic to be true, at AAA to refine himself, gain confidence and consistency before calling him up?

      If Meyer keeps doing what he's been doing, gets anywhere from 5 to 10 starts, and is up for the second half, color me pink and tickled to death. So what if he is on an innings limit this year and gets shut down sometime in September in favor of perhaps another young pitcher, May or Darnell or even Deduno? He can gain experience and confidence, pitch for a couple months at the ML level, hopefully with great success, and be poised as a fixture for 2015.

      I understand wanting our immensely young talented prospects to climb the ladder quickly and put us back in to serious contention. But I think the ideas of Sano, pre-injury, Buxton and Meyer and others all jumping to the majors this season at once, and making huge impacts is just a little bit unrealistic.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Now, if you want to sign Shields, and deal a legit starter for a SS, I'm all eyes and ear.
      only one?
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      Bert Blyleven. Because it fits well with the other premises.
      Sweet Music
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