Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Is Trevor May Paving Alex Meyer's Path?

Minnesota Twins pitcher Alex Meyer throws a fastball during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday, February 23, 2014. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)
Before the 2013 Major League Baseball season, the Minnesota Twins dealt talented outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere to new organizations. In sending Revere to the Philadelphia Phillies, Ruben Amaro gave the Twins two pitchers in return. One was a former rookie phenom in TrevVance Worley, but the bigger chip was perceived to be prospect Trevor May. With Span being dealt for Alex Meyer from the Washington Nationals organization that same summer, the two prospects would forever be linked.

The book has already been written in regards to what the Twins would eventually get out of Worley. Having been a key piece of their immediate rotation, and then going on to be a complete bust, he has since resumed his career in Pittsburgh with the Pirates. The two prospects however were always thought to be the prize. Meyer was regarded as a front of the rotation arm that could really bring it, and May was seen as a solid middle of the rotation contributor. Now a few years later, it's May who has spent time in the big leagues with Meyer still on the farm. It might be fair to ask whether or not May is laying out the blueprint for the Twins and Meyer though.

May was a 4th round draft pick out of high school, and played in parts of seven minor league seasons. He made his major league debut with the Twins down the stretch in 2014 and he struggled mightily. Over the course of his minor league career however, he owned 4.4 BB/9 and 10.5 K/9 ratios. His 3.90 minor league ERA wasn't going to set the world on fire, and a 1.341 WHIP left something to be desired. After looking strong for the majority of the 2014 season however, the Twins gave him his chance.

In 2014, May started nine games for the Twins and owned a 7.88 ERA, far from where you'd like a pitcher to sit at. He competed in spring training before the 2015 season, and ultimately lost out on the 5th starter role. Injuries then vaulted him into the starting rotation in April, and since, he has been a completely different pitcher. A 4.15 ERA is a significant change, but the 3.05 ERA following his first start, has really gotten him in his groove. Owning a 2.65 FIP (fielding independent pitching) mark, as well as 6.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 ratios, seems to look like he's almost reinvented himself.

There's little reason to believe that Meyer is knocking on the door of the major leagues, he's been up and down in most of his starts for Triple-A Rochester in 2015. However, outside of a hot streak in 2014, May allowed the jury to be mostly out on him as well. Looking at how May has transformed and transitioned to the big league game, Meyer could potentially fit the same mold.

A first round draft pick out of Kentucky, Meyer is 25 and has pitched in four professional seasons. He's compiled a 3.32 ERA with a 1.285 WHIP and owns 10.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 ratios. While indicative of a better track record than May, it's Meyer's recent output that has burned him. In 2015, Meyer has thrown to a 5.61 ERA, 1.792 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, and 6.3 BB/9. Hard to categorize as anything less than a debacle, it might be time that Meyer is actually getting bored with his current level.

Sure, it's a brazen thing to suggest, but there's no doubt that at a point, development and advancement intersect. Meyer has struggled with his command over the course of his professional career, but has also shown periods of dominance. Having posted three seasons of ERA's under 3.52, it may be worth seeing if Meyer can make the same strides as May. While potentially unconventional, working through some struggles at the major league level may make some sense. After all, May owned what was considered far from pinpoint accuracy on the farm, and is now posting the best numbers of his career.

There's no doubt that Alex Meyer is waiting for his opportunity, and the Twins are hoping he claims it. For an organization that has made more than questionable roster decisions due to tenure or scholarship senses previously, they may have reached a territory where a 6'9" sized gamble makes sense.