Minnesota Twins’ prized right-hander Alex Meyer—who was acquired this off-season in a trade with the Washington Nationals for Denard Span—survived a scare Thursday while pitching to Clete Thomas in a live batting practice session during spring training drills in Fort Myers, FL.
Thomas lined a shot up the middle that took a bad hop and hit his left forearm, minutes after Meyer began his pitching session. Meyer appeared to be in pain as he shook his left hand, but after further examination Meyer continued on with his bullpen session without any other injuries.
I am sure that when this accident occurred, Twins officials were holding their collective breath as if something catastrophic had unfolded before their eyes. It isn’t like this type of injury—even if it were serious—would end a pitcher’s career, but with so much enthusiasm and time now committed to Meyer and his development, the Twins and their fan base would have been devastated if anything derailed Meyer’s ability to pitch this season and beyond.
Whether it is fair or not, a lot of pressure is going to be placed on Meyer to resurrect this pitching staff. Meyer—as we sit here today—has been acquired to be the front-of-the-rotation starter that the Twins are counting on to lead their rotation for the foreseeable future. It has been no secret that the Twins’ struggles over the past few seasons can be directly correlated with their decline in pitching and defense.
By acquiring and drafting young and talented arms like Meyer, Trevor May, J.O. Berrios and Vance Worley, the Twins are hoping the future is bright once again for their pitching staff; headlining this group will hopefully be Meyer. To place the sole responsibility of reviving a pitching staff on Meyer would be irrational and unfair, but it seems as if that is exactly the type of expectations that are going to be placed upon Meyer.
As far as we know, Meyer has all the tools to be successful in the big leagues, but can a young pitcher handle the pressure of leading a staff with so many needs? The answer to that question will remain unsolved for the next few seasons, but it will not be long before the answers become glaringly obvious. It is for this reason—among others—that the health of Meyer is so crucial to Twins’ fans and the organization because if the team and fan base are unable to follow Meyer’s progress through the minor leagues, nervousness and paranoia may begin to set in.
In addition, every year is valuable to Meyer himself as he harnesses his talent, improves on it and begins to learn how to become an effective big league pitcher; so any type of delay—whether it be injury or something else—is a detriment to that development.
Hopefully for the Twins, this will be the only injury scares that they have to endure with any of their young pitchers this season and beyond; but the type of reaction and attention that an accident like this will get in the Minnesota media only demonstrates further the importance that Meyer has on the Twins and their fan base.
Whether it is fair or not, Meyer is the poster child for the next wave of Twins talent along with Miguel Sano. If the Twins are to return to contention, a lot of it will hinge on the development of Meyer and the rest of the Twins prospects. Let’s hope that the only thing that delays the development and rise of Meyer to the big leagues is too many good pitchers and players already ahead of him. Word to the wise—however—that isn’t likely to happen.