The Minnesota Twins made their first roster cuts this spring by reassigning top pitching prospect Alex Meyer, right-handers Bryan Augenstein and Esmerling Vasquez and injured righties Nick Blackburn and Lester Oliveros to the minor league camp Sunday. It should come as no surprise that Blackburn and Oliveros are being reassigned, as both are coming off of injuries and haven’t pitched at all this spring. Both figure to be out for the immediate future after off-season surgeries have prompted the pitchers to go through an extensive rehabilitation process.
The surprising name on this list—likely for many Twins’ fans—is the organization’s top pitching prospect Meyer. Although Meyer is the organization’s top pitching prospect and possesses some of the best “stuff”—namely his sinking fastball that reaches the mid 90 mph range—he is still a very young pitcher at the age of 23 and has yet to pitch above Single-A ball. All signs point to Meyer starting the year in Double-A, with the possibility of him reaching Triple-A by season’s end.
The Twins’ must preach patience with their prized right-hander and not rush him to the big leagues. Meyer figures to play a prominent role in the Twins’ revival as an organization, as they hope to return to contention in the next few seasons. With a star player—Joe Mauer—now in his 30s, the window for opportunity that the Twins would ideally like to return to contention is one to two seasons away.
In a perfect world, the Twins would love to contend this season, but that is unlikely to happen. That is why the team is targeting a return to contention in about two years from now when top prospects like Meyer, Trevor May, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, J.O. Berrios and Miguel Sano will be ready to join Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, and Mauer as the core of the next great Twins’ teams. With Meyer figuring to be the top-of-the-rotation ace for this team, the team must not rush him to the majors before he is ready.
Meyer will rise quickly through the minors and could be ready to debut by the tail end of this season or sometime next year. If that were to happen, that would provide plenty of time for the youngster to develop and mature at the big league level before he is leaned on heavily to guide a staff. Another benefit of having Meyer remain in the minors is to save his arbitration eligibility for a few more years, which will be crucial for the organization moving forward if all of their young prospects turn into talented big leaguers.
The bottom line is this do not be alarmed by Meyer being reassigned to the minor league camp this spring. It wasn’t due to ineffectiveness and it doesn’t show that the team has lost any faith in the promising young right-hander. If anything, this move is to be expected and it was good to see what Meyer can do against big league hitters early on this spring training. This will not be the last we see of Meyer and if anything, we have seen a glimpse into the future and it looks very bright for the future “ace” of the Twins.