Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Minnesota's Misuse of Meyer

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina- USA Today Sports
One start...

That's all Minnesota wanted to see from Alex Meyer before he was returned to Rochester. After making his first start at the big league level, the Twins decided that Meyer's performance wasn't good enough for a team floundering at 11 games under .500.

If you are reading this article and a frequent visitor to Twins Daily, you are likely a fan of the Twins organization. For those that have read my work before, you know I am a fan of the team and I follow the minor leagues and Twins prospects with a passion. However, I feel the Twins are misusing Meyer at this point in his career.

To paint the full picture, let's go back to Meyer's Minnesota origin.

The Twins traded for Meyer in the winter of 2012 as they sent Denard Span to the Nationals. Meyer was a year removed from being a first round pick after a three year collegiate career at the University of Kentucky. He's been a top-100 prospect on all three national prospect rankings (Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus) from 2013-15. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the 14th best prospect as recently as 2015.

There have been plenty of bumps and bruises for Meyer as he has gotten closer to the big leagues. After being considered one of the top starting pitching prospects in the game, Meyer struggled so much last season that he was sent to the bullpen to try and improve his performance. As part of the transition, things didn't go perfect but he lowered his ERA and his SO/9 rate increased.

2016 was a new season and the Twins decided to give Meyer another chance to be a starter. He made three Triple-A appearances, two as a starter, and posted a 1.04 ERA with 19 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Opponents hit .183/.234/.217 against him as he only allowed two earned runs. This was a very small sample size but it was a step in the right direction after a miserable 2015.

Minnesota promoted Meyer to the majors on April 25, 2016 but he wouldn't appear in a game until April 29 as a relief pitcher. In his first outing, he allowed two earned runs on five hits. During his start on Tuesday, he pitched into the third inning and allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts and three walks. After the game, he was informed that he would be going back to Rochester.

For the second year in a row, the Twins let Meyer pitch in two big league games before demoting him.

There are a lot of factors that go into a player being on a big league roster and it could be that Meyer is being subject to a roster crunch at this point to fit Ervin Santana back into the rotation. Minnesota wants Meyer to continue to start and there doesn't seem to be a spot for him at the big league level.

From the player's perspective, it must be hard to be in Meyer's shoes. He was on a path to be a regular in the big leagues at this point in his career but that hasn't come to fruition. The Twins have shifted Meyer from starter to reliever last season and now this season he has gone back to being a starter before being brought up to be a reliever and being sent back down so he can start again.

Meyer can't get settled in any specific role. He's moved between starting and relieving while also moving between Triple-A and the big leagues. There are different mindsets when it comes to starting and relieving and it can take a mental adjustment to prepare for these different roles.

If Minnesota wants to know what they have in Meyer, the team should allow him to pitch at the big league level. Decided on his role and let him sink or swim. This team is not winning games right now and Meyer was supposed to be a part of the long-term solution.

There has already been plenty of discussion in the forums about Meyer's demotion. I'm in the camp that Minnesota is misusing Meyer at this point in his career. He will get other opportunities but these brief tastes of the big leagues are not helping his long-term development.

What camp do you fall in? Should Meyer have been demoted or should he still be part of the Twins 25-man roster?

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