Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's the Alex Meyer timeline?

In his first spring training with the Minnesota Twins, Alex Meyer did his best to impress those that were paying attention. The 23-year old right-hander was brought to the organization through the Denard Span trade with the Washington Nationals. Many consider him the top-pitching prospect in the organization and he did nothing to sway those opinions since joining the club.

When the Twins made their first round of cuts on Sunday, he was one of the names heading to minor league camp. This was expected since he hasn't pitched above the Single-A level. He should start the year at the Double-A level with New Britain.

Last season, he went 10-6 across both A levels in the Nationals farm system. He had a very good 2.86 ERA across 25 starts. He threw 129 innings with 139 strikeouts and 45 walks. Only 39 of his innings came at the High-A level but his number improved at the higher level. His ERA was 2.31 and his WHIP dropped from 1.13 to 1.02.

The well publicized trade to bring him to the organization and his performance so far leaves speculation about when he could be making his Target Field debut.

If Meyer looked dominant in the first months of the season, the young pitcher could move quickly through the system. The Double-A level might prove to too easy and he could find himself moving into the Rochester rotation. If his domination continued at Triple-A, the Twins might have no choice but to call him up at mid-season. This would be the earliest that Meyer would make his debut.

There is always the chance that the Twins will want to take it easy with Meyer. A couple of bad starts in the early part of the season and the team might want to leave him at Double-A until the middle part of the year. This might mean a trip to Rochester won't come until later in the year. This would mean a September call-up might be the best that Meyer could hope for.

Things don't always go as planned in the minor leagues. Twins fans are familiar with this trend when it comes to the top pitching prospects in their farm system. Meyer might have a rough year at Double-A and this could mean that he won't advance beyond that level. There are things that the Twins want him to work on and it might take some time and experience to reach that level.

Next spring training, the Twins could be in a similar position with Meyer. He will be in big league camp but there will probably still be questions about where he should start the year. Will the Twins want him in the rotation at the big league level? Should he be sent to Rochester for more experience?

There are going to be plenty of eyes on Meyer this season and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. In the Nationals organization, there were other pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez at the big league level to take the focus off of him. In the Twins system, he is the top of the list and there will be plenty of hype surrounding his call-up.

The fastest that Meyer would make his debut is the middle of 2013. If he doesn't get off to a fast start, he might have to wait for a September call-up. The Twins might bide their time with Meyer. This would mean that he might not make an appearance until the beginning of 2014 when the club has a better shot at getting back to the top.

Meyer might be the Twins future ace but fans are going to have to be patient. No matter what his timeline is...

When do you think Meyer will make his debut? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

1 comment:

TT said...

"Things don't always go as planned in the minor leagues. ... Meyer might have a rough year at Double-A and this could mean that he won't advance beyond that level."

I suspect that if things go as planned, Meyer will spend the year at AA New Britain and 2014 at AAA.

Are there some reasons to think he could move faster than that? Yes. But his pitching for the Twins this season is an extreme long shot. He has the stuff to be a major league ace, but he still needs to develop command and his secondary pitches.

"Twins fans are familiar with this trend when it comes to the top pitching prospects in their farm system."

Actually what Twins fans ought to be familiar with is the trend for bloggers and other journalists to project prospects moving through the system at the speed of light.

The reality is there are a lot more guys like Hunter, Morneau, Cuddyer, Span, Parmelee and Plouffe who spend an extra years at a level, than there are guys like Mauer, Radke or Baker that skip levels. And, even at that, Baker bounced between AAA and the majors for three seasons.

Expect Meyer to arrive at the end of 2014. If he is ready earlier than that, it will be a pleasant surprise.