Friday, June 26, 2015
Alex Meyer: Destined To Stick
Heading into the season, Baseball Prospectus ranked Alex Meyer as their 14th best prospect. At that time, he was still a starting pitcher, and that no doubt contributed to the high ceiling. Although he will debut with the Twins out of the pen, it's probably best to assume the door to the rotation isn't yet closed.
After struggling to the tune of a 7.09 ERA and 41/24 K/BB ratio as a starter this season for Triple-A Rochester, it became apparent that the Twins would need to get creative. At 25 years old, there's no doubt that Meyer's "prospect" status was waning thin, and getting him to a competitive level in the big leagues was a must. If the rotation wasn't going to be the stepping stone to do so, the bullpen then made a lot of sense.
With plenty of scouts and front office personnel believing that Meyer was always destined for the pen, the decision was pretty easy. Having an electric fastball, and the ability to ambush hitters late in games, the Twins could cash in on Meyer in another way. Since the transition down in Rochester, Meyer has proved that to be the case.
On May 25, Meyer made his first relief appearance for the Red Wins. Throwing a perfect inning with two strikeouts, Meyer flashed a sign of things to come. Fast forward 16 innings and Meyer has compiled quite the impressive stat line. In 17.0 IP, Meyer has allowed just a .188/.268/.219 slash line while owning a 0.53 ERA striking out 20 and walking just six. His 10.6 K/9 would be easily the best mark in the bullpen (Glen Perkins would be closest owning an 8.31 K/9), and his decreased walk rate is great to see.
For a team lacking the ability to strike batters out, Meyer becomes more than just another bullpen arm. Owning a career 10.3 K/9 across 394.0 minor league innings, his strikeout ability is more than substantiated. While command has always been his knock, Meyer has curbed some of those struggles in relief. Giving manager Paul Molitor a true asset in the bullpen, Meyer should be expected to be someone the Twins can lean on.
Despite getting solid starting performances throughout the season, the Twins currently have pitchers with 8.22 (Brian Duensing) and 5.40 (Aaron Thompson) in their bullpen. Taking relief appearances away from pitchers clearly not capable of them, Meyer should be able to provide the Twins another added boost.
Challenging for the top of the AL Central due to a hot start, a Twins team adding players like Byron Buxton, now Alex Meyer, and eventually Miguel Sano along the way, should contribute to an exciting summer. Although Meyer's promotion may not have come through the rotation as originally expected, he appears poised to contribute, and should be absolutely counted on to stick.