Minnesota Twins: The Alex Meyer Conundrum

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Amidst the snow falling outside and covering Target Field, a quick thought to pitchers and catchers reporting to Fort Myers in just over a month is a warming thought. Of those who are headed to Hammond Stadium, few may be more anticipated than that of prized prospect, Alex Meyer. After joining the Twins in exchange for Denard Span, Meyer has become one of the big names on the farm. Now the Twins find themselves at a crossroads however, and it’s up to them to decide how to handle it.

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Meyer celebrated his 25th birthday on January 3, just days ago. Entering the 2015 season, he has reached the point of no return for many prospects. Teetering on the cusp of having been down to long, the Twins have a predicament on their hands. At the age of 25, many prospects still left in the minors are no longer seen as viable candidates to build a future around.

David Price, Max Scherzer, and Clayton Kershaw all debuted prior to turning 23 (with Kershaw debuting at the age of 20). Each of those pitchers was seen as an organization changer, and future ace if development went as expected. While Alex Meyer may not necessarily have that ceiling, he has been highly regarded as one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues for years. He was seen as a potential staff ace, and the Twins getting Meyer from the Nationals for Span was seen as a home run.

Fast forward to today…

Alex Meyer enters spring training with no set destination. It appears as if he finds himself on the outside looking in when it comes to the starting rotation. Sure he could make the 25 man roster as a relief pitcher, but he just as likely could be left off of it. That begs the question, what do the Twins do?

In the rotation, Meyer appears to be battling only Tommy Milone, but they are fighting over the 5th and final spot. With Milone having significant starting experience for the Athletics, and being a key trade pickup in return for Sam Fuld, it would appear he has the edge. When it comes to the bullpen, the more fringe relievers the Twins sign, the more squeezed Meyer appears to be. He could pitch in a long relief role, but Mike Pelfrey may have something to say about that. Also, if the Twins do throw him into long relief, what does it do to his long-term prognosis as a starter? In a worst case scenario, Meyer could find himself the ace of the Rochester Red Wings in Triple-A to start 2015, but is that really where the Twins should have a 25-year-old prospect?

The long running knock on Meyer has been his command. As with all young pitchers, fighting through the strike zone is something that makes them into a big leaguer. Many players work to iron this out prior to reaching the major leagues, some however, refine their craft there. In this situation, it would seem best suited to let Meyer show us what he’s got.

While he may get roughed up a bit from the get go, it’s best not to assume that Meyer has eggshell like confidence. Outside of his command (career 3.8 BB/9 in 3 minor league seasons), he has been dominant. With a career 3.15 ERA backed up by a 10.4 K/9 ratio, there is no way the Twins can fail to find a place for that production to fit in.

Expecting his command to make a drastic leap prior to the 2015 major league season may be a bit much to ask. Minnesota, should they decide to put Meyer on the 25 man roster to start the season, will be taking somewhat of a leap of faith. At this point however, with a highly regarded 25-year-old pitcher, maybe that is the best plan of action.

No matter what happens, Alex Meyer will be a storyline to watch this spring. Command issues coupled with the Twins typical slow promotion hasn’t helped Meyer; here’s to hoping things start looking up in the year ahead.

Next: Projecting Your Minnesota Twins 2015 Opening Day Lineup

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