Hello, I'm John Calvagno, and I'll be writing stories about the South Atlantic League.
I'd like to thank Mr Sickels for the opportunity to write for his fantastic website. I'm excited for the opportunity.
I've been writing about prospects for about six months (a year if you count Twitter) and I've been visiting Minor League Ball on a regular basis for about five years, right after I joined my first dynasty league.
I thought I would do my first Sally piece on the best pitching performance I've seen this season. On Friday May 8th I was in Greenville watching Casey Meisner (Age 20, RHP, drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft from a high School in Texas) and the Savannah Sand Gnats take on the Greenville Drive. I remember being excited that day about seeing how he would fare against that loaded Drive lineup.
The first thing I noticed was how long he was, at 6'7" inches tall and a high 3/4 delivery, he's able to get great plane on his pitches. He has projection left, but he seems rather well proportioned. Not super skinny where you have to worry about him holding up. I think he could add another 20 pounds of muscle though.
Normally the taller pitchers I've seen, especially at this level, struggle to repeat their delivery and find a consistent release point and they are often chasing their command as a result. That wasn't the case with Meisner, his delivery seemed in sync all night and he was consistently hitting the glove with all of his pitches.
Early on Meisner featured an 88-89 MPH fastball and touched 90 a couple of times, the pitch ticked up in the middle innings to consistently hitting 90 and touching 92, with some downward movement, he broke a few bats with the pitch. He mixed in quite a few low to mid 70's curveballs with an 11-5 break. He threw some for strikes and bounced others, a few got a little loopy but he was consistently getting on top of the pitch all night and generated a lot of swing and miss and weak contact. Meisner's third pitch was a high 70's change-up that had some downward movement On this night he threw about 65% fastballs, 30% curveballs, 5% change-ups.
Meisner did a masterful job of mixing his pitches, he threw at least a half dozen first pitch curveballs for strikes. He changed speeds and hit his spots and had the Drive hitters off balance all night. He was perfect through three innings, with five strikeouts, two groundouts and a broken bat soft line drive to second base. In the fourth inning, Drive catcher Jordan Procyshen hit a pretty good shot to the gap in left center that was run down by left fielder Vincente Lupo. Meisner remained perfect through five by striking out Nick Longhi, Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis in order.
Through this point this was among the most dominant pitching performances I'd ever seen. Five Innings, 8 strikeouts, 3 broken bats, no walks, not even a three ball count and just that one hard hit ball.
Meisner started to tire in the sixth, his fastball was missing up and he left a couple in the middle of the plate. He gave up a couple of shots but his perfect game remained intact. I thought his night was through but he came back out for the seventh, and gave up a couple of hits and a run before completing the inning.
Casey Meisner is a very interesting pitcher, he currently throws an average velocity fastball, that plays above average to plus because of the plane he throws at. There's projection left, so if he's able to add a few ticks, we could be looking at a future 60/65 fastball or more. His curve is at least an average offering that can throw for strikes seemingly at will, it showed good tilt when he got on top of the pitch. I didn't see much of the change-up, the few that he threw I saw some sink but I didn't get a good read on the fade. His current command and control are pretty advanced for his age/size.