At the beginning of the 2015 season, Alex Meyer was ranked as the Minnesota Twins’ top pitching prospect. However, after his most recent outing (5/14), which was slightly better than the last, the Twins and Meyer need to make a few adjustments because the 25-year-old 6’ 9" hurler has looked more like a journeyman than one of baseball’s top ranked prospects (currently #29 according to MLB).
Through the first seven games of the 2014 season, Meyer’s earned run average was 4.33, he had 42 strikeouts to 17 walks and batters were only hitting .240 off of him. By the end of the season, Meyer had established himself as, not just a top pitching prospect, but the future ace of the Twins’ staff. He pitched 130.1 innings, racked up 153 strikeouts (both career highs) and lowered his earn run average to a very respectable 3.52.
Through the first seven games of this season, his earned run average is 7.01. He has only fanned 34 batters while allowing 21 free passes. To make it worse, batters are hitting him at a .324 average (the type of BA that gets players into the HOF).
What’s gone wrong? Is he putting too much pressure on himself? Is his mechanics off? Or, is it something much more alarming—a new found lack of confidence?
As soon as the Meyer for Span trade became official, Alex became the organization’s top pitching prospect and has held that position for the past two years. Since that time, he has seen a number of spot-starters make it to the show. He saw his friend and former Red Wings’ teammate, Trevor May, reach the majors last season, and throughout this year he has either seen or heard of the accomplishments of his fellow pitching prospects: Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, Pat Dean, Tyler Duffey, Kohl Stewart, Chih-Wei Hu, as well as others. Those pitchers have been extremely good to elite, and arguably a few have passed him on the Twins’ list of top pitching prospects.
Has this done something to diminish his confidence? Is he still motivated? Those are questions only Alex can answer.
What should the Minnesota Twins do?
Perhaps what he needs is a promotion? Sounds crazy, right? Maybe not?
The Twins’ bullpen is average, at best. Add one flame-throwing pitcher with an excellent slider would fill a much needed void—long relief. Meanwhile, Meyer would have benefit of working with Neil Allen, the Twins’ new pitching coach. No disrespect to Marty Mason, the Red Wings’ pitching coach, but Allen was brought in for a reason and if anyone can help Meyer regain his 2014 form, Allen’s the guy. Not-to-mention, being surrounded by veteran pitchers, such as Perkins, Fien and Hughes, would only assist in his development. Finally, perhaps facing elite competition every time he steps onto the mound will bring back the elite pitcher we all saw last season?
Baseball is a game of strategy, much like chess. Maybe the right strategy is to move Meyer one position forward?