Minnesota Twins Trade Denard Span to Washington Nationals for Alex Meyer
Seeking to add impact pitching talent to their farm system, the Minnesota Twins traded major league outfielder Denard Span to the Washington Nationals this afternoon, in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer. The Twins organization has been criticized for lack of power pitching over the last few years, but Meyer certainly qualifies as a power arm. Here's the scoop.
Alex Meyer is a 6-9, 220 pound right-hander, born January 3rd, 1990, in Greensburg, Indiana. The Red Sox drafted him in the 20th round in 2008 and offered him $2,000,000 to pass up college, but he chose to attend the University of Kentucky. He was erratic in college, but showed enough that he jumped to the first round in the '11 draft, 23rd overall, signing for $2,000,000. He got a college education and it didn't cost him anything but the rate of inflation.
Meyer had a successful 2012 season. He made 18 starts for Low-A Hagerstown in the Sally League, going 7-4, 3.10 with a 107/34 K/BB in 90 innings, allowing just 68 hits. Promoted to High-A Potomac in the Carolina League in late July, he breezed through the competition with a 2.31 ERA in seven starts and a 32/11 K/BB. Overall, he went 10-6, 2.86 this year with a 139/45 K/BB ratio in 129 innings, allowing 97 hits.
Meyer had command issues in college but had few problems in '12, making good progress refining his delivery and harnessing his stuff. Said stuff is impressive, highlighted by a 93-97 MPH sinking fastball, and a nasty slider. His changeup is still under development, but he's made progress with it, and the Twins are good at developing off-speed pitches. Meyer has made very impressive strides with his command over the last four years: his BB/9 ratios have gone from 6.79 as a freshman, to 6.35 as a sophomore, to 4.10 as a junior, to 3.14 as a pro.
Meyer hasn't seen Double-A and is probably a year away from being ready to help in the majors, but he has the upside of a number two starter. If the changeup doesn't develop as hoped, he could still be a closer. I rate him as a Grade B+ prospect, and he's likely the best pitching prospect in the Twins minor league system now. He has a higher ceiling than Kyle Gibson, and more polish than Jose Berrios, his two main competitors.