When Alex Meyer was acquired from the Washington Nationals for Denard Span this off-season, the Minnesota Twins knew that they were acquiring a young, talented and up-and-coming starting pitcher. What the Twins didn’t know was when they could expect their prized, young prospect to begin pitching in the big leagues. While it would be premature to get ahead of ourselves and proclaim that Meyer is the second coming of Justin Verlander and has potential staff ace written all over him, it is safe to say that Meyer definitely has the makeup of a starting pitcher that could become the most dominant Twins’ pitcher since Johan Santana.
Meyer’s frame at 6’9 and 220 lbs. fits the mold of a power pitcher with a strong fastball and high strikeout ratio. Fortunately for the Twins’, Meyer not only fits his frame, he still has room for growth. Meyer throws from a three-quarters arm slot and according to Mike Rosenbaum—the MLB Prospects Lead Writer for the Los Angeles Times—Meyer’s fastball reaches 93-97 mph throughout the course of a game. Early in games and in short stints, however, he’ll occasionally flirt with triple-digits on his fastball.
Meyer’s slider gives him a second “plus pitch” and is a true “swing-and-miss pitch” that reaches the mid-to-high-80s with late, diving break. The right-hander also made progress with his changeup last season and it could emerge as a dominant complementary pitch as Meyer’s career develops. When you combine those three pitches together, Meyer possesses the tools needed to be a high strikeout and dominant pitcher at the top of the Twins’ rotation—barring injury—for many years to come.
This season, in two starts, Meyer has done nothing short of live up to expectations. In his two starts, Meyer is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings pitched. During those starts, Meyer has given up a total of 12 hits and three earned runs, while issuing three walks and striking out an impressive 14 batters. His WHIP, 1.50, does give cause for concern, but these occasional command issues must be harnessed if Meyer wants to make it in the majors. Those are the type of numbers that fans should expect out of Meyer: high strikeouts, two to three earned runs and one or two walks.
So when can fans expect to see Meyer in the big leagues in a Twins’ uniform? At the earliest, I’d predict that Meyer will show up during a September call-up late this season, if all things continue to go his way. When Meyer does make his debut, whether it is in 2013 or 2014, the Twins are likely to be very cautious with their prized youngster by holding him to an innings limit in order to preserve his arm’s health long-term. It is possible they could use Meyer out of the bullpen to start out his career and save his arm for later in the season, similar to what the Atlanta Braves did with Kris Medlen, but the more likely option is having Meyer start the entire season with an innings limit.
It is an exciting time for Twins’ fans as some of the prized prospects are beginning to make their way through the team’s minor league system. It won’t be long until these names start to appear on the major league roster for the Twins and hopefully, with their arrival, the team will return to annual contention.