When I saw Alex Meyer take the mound for the third inning of the annual Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, I was pretty shocked to be quite honest. For an exhibition game in a league meant mostly for development, I thought maybe he would go two at most. But seeing him go for three innings was exciting and actually made me somewhat believe that the Twins could have a top-of-the-rotation starter on their hands.
He threw 45 pitches and for a game in which showing off “stuff” is equally as important as performance, he did just fine in the pitch count department. As far as the mechanics go, I can see why some scouts thought he’d be destined for a role in the bullpen in pro ball but he repeats it decently well for a big, lanky north paw. When I look at mechanics, I think the best thing a pitcher can have is good direction to the plate. It’s easy to watch but the best indicator of direction is where the pitcher misses with his pitches.
Watching throughout the evening, his pitches were missing more north/south rather than east/west. If a pitcher is missing inside and outside, it is an indication he is pulling off pitches and when a pitcher misses up and down, it is just a release point issue which is easier to iron out in the middle of a game.
Now as far as the stuff goes, last night, things were as advertised. Though the radar gun wasn’t working consistently on-screen, there were many fastballs clocked in at 97 and even saw a couple of 98’s. There could be more adrenaline in a game like this and for a more stretched out period he could fall into the 94-95 range which would be splendid to see from the right side in a Twins uniform. His fastball had a little bit of arm-side run and he’ll need that to get big league hitters out because they all can square up 97 and straight.
The breaking ball is what impressed me so much. It was in the mid 80s and had two-plane break to it. He was able to throw it for a strike and bury it in the dirt for a strikeout, even to a left-handed hitter.
It will be interesting to see how Meyer performs come Grapefruit League time because after a strong season in Double-A and so far a strong fall, he could start the year in Rochester and after Super-Two status is up, he could land in the rotation.
The only thing which worries me with Meyer is the bit of effort in his delivery. It isn’t the easiest of motions. His arm works well and easy which helps but it has violent motions. It reminds me a little bit of Max Scherzer and he is able to avoid injury so maybe this is something to not worry about.
What excites me as well, is how he has turned around his career. After turning down a fat $2 million contract from the Boston Red Sox he went to Kentucky and sported a 5.73 ERA in 2009 and an even uglier 7.06 ERA in 2010. Then, in 2011, he showed scouts why he was offered millions of dollars just a few years prior. He cut his walk rate (and his strikeout rate which might be due to him trying to find the plate more) and kept the ball in the park (likely due also to the chance in bats that year) to lower his ERA to 2.94. Maybe not anything magnificent in college baseball, but in the powerful SEC, that is remarkable.
To me this shows he is coachable and can change. Too often of times, players who know they have “it” won’t listen to others advise and never improve their God-given skills.
After such a small sample, I’m very excited to see what the future holds. Hopefully, it holds a future All-Star and potential big-game pitcher for the pitching desperate Twinkies.