With the 2016 season off to a difficult start, the Minnesota Twins have begun the inevitable roster-shuffling, sending young outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler down to Triple-A. Pitching prospect Alex Meyer has been officially promoted to fill one of the roster spots; word is that top pitching prospect Jose Berrios will follow very soon and start tomorrow, though as I write this on Tuesday morning that isn't official yet. We will profile Berrios shortly but here's a look at Meyers.
Here's how things stood at the beginning of spring training, from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-9 WT: 220 DOB: January 3, 1990
2012: Grade B; 2013: Grade B+; 2014: Grade B+; 2015: Grade B+
Alex Meyer entered 2015 with a chance at the major league rotation. He finished 2015 hoping for a bullpen spot sometime. He struggled as a starter early in the year at Rochester then moved to relief in June. He was more effective in that role (7.09 ERA as a starter, 3.08 in the pen) and that’s his most likely deployment going forward. At his best Meyer features an overpowering mid-to-upper-90s fastball, two different breaking balls, and a change-up. Like many tall pitchers he struggles with his command due to mechanical inconsistency. This was less of an issue in the pen but he still has to tighten things up if he wants a larger role; he blew all three save chances he received for Rochester and such opportunities won’t come in the majors without significant improvement. I still like Meyer’s upside but he’s 26 now and went backwards last year. Grade B-, which is generous.
Meyer suffered continued control problems in big league camp, walking four men in 4.2 innings on the way to giving up three runs, but he was throwing well with Triple-A Rochester (1.04 ERA, 19/4 K/BB in 17 innings) with greatly improved command before yesterday's promotion. He was starting again in the minors but will move back to the bullpen at present.
Despite the early ups and downs not much has changed with Meyer's profile. He has excellent stuff and his recent run at Rochester shows what happens when his command is working. Whether he can take that progress into the major league environment remains to be seen but there's not much point in keeping him down right now. Let him pitch and see what happens.
Here's some fastball cheese from his second 2016 Rochester start.