The best pitching prospect in the Minnesota Twins system is right-hander Alex Meyer, currently pitching for Triple-A Rochester in the International League. With the big league club at .500 but in need of starting pitching, we'll likely see him later this summer. Let's take a look at Meyer as Tuesday's Prospect of the Day.
Meyer was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round in 2008 out of high school in Greensburg, Indiana. He turned down $2,000,000 and went to the University of Kentucky. He was mediocre as a freshman (5.73 ERA, 80/45 K/BB in 60 innings), struggled badly as a sophomore (7.06 ERA, 63/36 K/BB in 51 innings), but turned things around as a junior (2.94 ERA, 110/46 K/BB in 101 innings) in time to solidify his place in the 2011 draft. The Nationals selected him in the first round, 21st overall, giving him a $2,000,000 bonus.
Meyer posted a 3.10 ERA with a 107/34 K/BB in 90 innings for Low-A Hagerstown in 2012, followed by a 2.31 ERA with a 32/11 K/BB in 39 innings after being promoted to High-A Potomac. Traded to the Twins for Denard Span that fall, he posted a 3.21 ERA in 13 starts last year for Double-A New Britain, with an 84/29 K/BB in 70 innings with just 60 hits allowed. He missed much of the season with a sore shoulder but was healthy in the fall and has been healthy this year, posting a 3.79 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB in 40 innings for Rochester, with 31 hits allowed.
Cutting an intimidating 6-9, 220 on the mound, Meyer was born January 3, 1990. His huge size made it tough for him to keep his mechanics consistent in college, resulting in serious command problems and erratic performances. However, he's made significant improvements over the last three years. He still has trouble occasionally, but this is a far cry from the guy who was regularly beaten up as a freshman and sophomore.
Stuff has never been questioned: he can hit 100 MPH and works regularly in the mid-90s. He has a knucklecurve that rates as a plus pitch, and has developed a solid changeup to go with the power pitches. When his command is on he is nigh unhittable: examples include a pair of 11-strikeout games in late April, although he's had a couple of more difficult outings since then when his command slipped.
Meyer has the stuff to be a number one starter, but enough doubt remains about his command for us to project him more as a number two or strong three. The Twins usually promote their prospects slowly and Meyer hasn't consistently dominated at Rochester to the extent that would force their hand ahead of schedule. That said, we will most likely see him later this year, and he certainly has the natural ability to find immediate success once that happens.