In the past week, two new pitching prospects have been added to the Twins minor league system: Alex Meyer (formerly with the Nationals) and Trevor May (formerly with the Phillies). When I first head that Trevor May was the prospect involved in the trade with the Phillies, I looked up his ranking on Joe Sickels's preliminary 2013 pitching prospect list. May (#32) was listed just four spots behind Meyer (#28). I immediately assumed that Meyer and May are equivalent prospects, and I was quite excited about the trade for the Twins. However, I continued to scour the Internet to gather more information. As it turns out, Meyer and May are similar in many ways, yet it appears that as baseball prospects they are in very different places - much more than Sickels's ranking would indicate.
Meyer and May are almost the same age, with May being about 3 1/2 months older. Both were drafted out of high school in 2008, May in round 4 to the Phillies and Meyer in round 20 to the Red Sox. Meyer decided to go to college instead, and ended up spending three years at the University of Kentucky. Meyer was then drafted again in 2011 by the Nationals with the 23rd pick. In addition to their similar ages, they both share a similar stature - as in very tall, well built gentlemen. Meyer is a robust 6' 9", 220lb, and May is no slouch at 6' 6", 215lb. As you might expect with this physique, both pitchers have excellent fastballs, easily topping 95 mph. The scouting reports for them are very similar as well: great fastball, decent offspeed stuff, and struggles with command and control.
For better or worse, I used the following five sources for my prospect rankings: ESPN (Keith Law), Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Minor League Ball and Fangraphs. I have no idea if any of these sources are better or worse, but hopefully they will give you a range of opinions to help get a picture of these two new Twins.
In 2011, Meyer was finishing up his Junior season of college, and was expected to be a first round draft pick. Drafted #23 by the Nationals, he didn't sign early enough to pitch professionally in the 2011 season. To give you an idea of what the experts though of him, here are a few data points (note: some of these are mock drafts, others are rankings. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.):
May, on the other hand, had already completed 225 professional innings in the Phillies system, and by the end of 2010 had been promoted up to High-A. He was not ranked in many of the top-100 type lists for 2011 (some of which were very hard to dig up), but he did creep into the end of a couple lists:
Additionally, everyone had consistent ranks for him within the Phillies system:
As I said earlier, Meyer did not sign early enough to pick professionally in 2011. May pitched a full season at High-A. In 151 innings, he averaged 5 1/2 innings per start, 12.1 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 7.2 H/9 and a 3.63 ERA.
Going into 2012 season, both May and Meyer were on top-100 prospect lists. May was in all five lists, while Meyer only made one, though that is not terribly surprising considering he had not pitched professionally yet. May was a consensus 50-75 prospect, while Meyer was a 100+. Here were their rankings prior to the season:
In addition to the overall rankings, here are their team-specific rankings. First, it is very clear that going into the 2012 season, May was THE #1 prospect in the Phillies organization:
On the other hand, Meyer was an upper-tier prospect, though to be clear, the National's farm system was much deeper at the time:
Minor League Ball did put out a mid-season update that did include May and Meyer, with May dropping 10 spots while Meyer jumped onto the list. Here is their updated rankings:
- #50 May, #74 Meyer Minor League Ball
May spent the 2012 season at AA, and had the worse season of his short career. He pitched 149 innings in 28 starts, averaging 5 1/3 innings per start, 9.1 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 8.4 H/9 and a 4.87 ERA. Meyer started 2012 in Low-A, and then moved up to High-A after 18 starts. Between the two levels, he pitched 129 innings in 25 starts, averaging 5.1 innings per start, 9.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.8 H/9 and a 2.86 ERA.
Unfortunately, at this time the majority of these websites have not posted off-season rankings for the Phillies or the Nationals yet, so we really have no idea where May and Meyer were moving within their own systems. Additionally, full top-100 lists usually aren't posted until later in the off season, so we will have to wait a few weeks before we can find out where the experts rank May and Meyer after the 2012 season. Aaron Gleeman was able to do some journalistic work, and learned that Keith Law is expecting Meyer to be in the 50-75 range for his 2013 rankings. Gleeman didn't mention anything about May's potential rank in his write-up about the Revere trade, which leads me to think that May probably won't make Law's top-100 list.
After all this, I have realized that May and Meyer are not equivalent prospects. It definitely seems that Meyer is ascending. He had a much better 2012, and if you take into account his college stats, his peripheral numbers (especially walk rate) seem to be trending in the right direction. I'm guessing he will start the year at High-A, but will quickly move up to AA if he has success. May, on the other hand, seems to be trending down. May had a very difficult 2012, and his peripheral numbers all moved in the wrong direction. He gave up more home runs and more walks, while striking out at a lower (though still good) rate. Hopefully he will adjust with another season at AA. For what it's worth, the Phillies blogs did not seem too concerned about losing May, and are quite confident that he is no longer their #1 prospect.
I know this is not much of a prediction, but I expect May to drop in rankings significantly. As one example, John Sickels had him ranked as his #20 pitcher going into 2012, but now his preliminary rank for 2013 is #32, a significant drop. I wouldn't be surprised if he is outside many of the top-100 rankings this off-season. Meyer will definitely be on the top-100 lists, and I expect him to be in the top 50 for some of them. In a certain sense, May and Meyer have switched places from a year ago - Meyer is the 50-75 prospect, while May may be left off lists entirely.
At this moment, it is my opinion that Meyer is the significantly better prospect, and has a higher probability of being an impact major league starter. May is more of a wildcard, though I really hope he can put things together next season. Considering the state of pitching in the Twin's farm system, both players are badly-needed additions.