After coming out of the gate strong for Double-A New Britain this spring, Alex Meyer hit a stumbling block. He'd thrown 61 great innings as a Rock Cat, striking out 73, walking 27, and allowing just 53 hits en route to a 3.69 ERA before being put on the disabled list thanks to an issue with his throwing shoulder. At the time his MRI came back clean and Terry Ryan said it was "shoulder discomfort" and that it wasn't serious.
Meyer didn't pitch again in a game until August 9, nearly two months later. In the grand scheme of things that doesn't seem like a big deal, but two months off for a clean MRI is a bit curious. And it's something worth remembering going forward.
A lot of the attention for the fantastic state of the farm system goes to Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, which is fair. That attention is well earned. But while Kyle Gibson is more or less MLB-ready barring a little experience and while Kohl Stewart may have the highest ceiling of any starter in the farm, Alex Meyer is the best of both worlds.
Meyer is 23 and, prior to his injury, had been succeeding at Double-A. It wasn't outside the realm of reality to think that he could be given a look for the Twins rotation at some point in 2014. He's also a pitcher who is capable of striking out a batter per inning while being blessed with command. When the new prospect lists come out in anticipation of next season, Meyer will be a Top 5 guy in the Minnesota system. The only pitcher who could be in front of him on that list would be Stewart.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying: the Twins need Meyer to be healthy. If he's healthy he has the chance to be effective and productive, and if he's both of those things then he'll be able to help the Minnesota rotation. His success would be a big step along the path to reconstructing the big league rotation, in helping it go the distance from a state of complete shambles to a state of, at the very least, promise and potential.
But if those unnamed two months off are something more than just shoulder discomfort, if the silence surrounding Stewart's absence add up to be something else down the line, then it would be a big step backward for a team desperate for talented starting pitchers.
The Twins need Alex Meyer to be healthy. Thankfully, he's looked good in three rehab starts with the GCL Twins. If you're like me, you'll be checking minor league box scores regularly - and Meyer's is always one of the first ones I look for. Stay healthy, kid. Not just for our sake or the team's sake, but for your own.