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Meyer's blistering performance leaves little doubt in Louisville

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#1 jokin

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:31 PM

The Ballpark

 

 

Alex Meyer started for the visiting Rochester Red Wings last night against the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Stadium located on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  I was fortunate enough to be in the area with my travel schedule, and when I saw that Meyer was the scheduled starter, I surmised this might be the only chance to see Big Unit 2.0 pitch in 2014 and the decision became an easy one.

 

 

 

As they say, it was a great night for baseball, temperature in the low 90s, with a gentle SW breeze blowing left to right across the beautiful LSS stadium, which affords both full downtown skyline views as well as glimpses of two rugged steel bridges that span the Ohio River, as well as the State of Indiana just across the waterway.  For those of you not familiar with the ballpark, it first opened in 2000, and the baseball bat maker, Hillerich and Bradsby, bought the naming rights- the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, as well as The Yum! Center, The Muhammad Ali Center and Stevie Ray's Blues Bar are just a few blocks west down Main Street. The park entrance is just a few steps from the Main Street curb, and first viewing promises a rich experience with its all-brick-and-iron facade (the building front area is a restored 19th Century train shed).  Statues of Louisville natives Pee Wee Reese and Paul Hornung are located at opposite entrances to the stadium, as well as a streetside mini-brewery and sidewalk cafe seating.  Once inside the park, one quickly notices the wide and 360 degree continuous concourse, all of the wonderful amenities standard in a modern ballpark, plus along with the stunning panoramic view of the park confines. They even have a row of small pine trees directly in front of the CF batters eye.  Needless to say, quite an impressive AAA park, one I would strongly recommend if you are in the area.

 

 

Louisville_Slugger_Field.JPG

 

 

Warm-up

 

 

Although we had seats behind home plate, my family and I were free to roam anywhere in the park.  And of course, during Meyer's pregame warm-up routine, about two dozen Twins fans congregated near the Red Wing right field line bullpen to get an up close and personal look at Alex Meyer taking his warmup throws, practically from an arms-length distance.  Under the very watchful eyes of Wing trainer, Larry Bennese, Meyer went through his routine, throwing to Josmil Pinto.  Meyer obviously maintains a commanding presence, as he slowly worked his way up from easy, to intense, in his approach.  One immediate red flag I noted was how flat the FB looked, and the second was the lack of big movement on the 90MPH+ new 3-finger change.  It's supposed to have some new and improved "nice run and sink", I made a mental note to watch for the pitch motion during the game.  It looks like he might be tipping that pitch a bit, as well.  But on the plus side, Meyer maintained an easy motion, even as he heated up all the way to game-ready....and he appeared to be focusing on repetitive mechanics...and most importantly, he showed absolutely no signs of discomfort or favoring of his shoulder in any way.

 

Meyer's Performance

 

Meyer started out with a very efficient first inning.  In 13 pitches, he threw 9 strikes, although he fell behind the first two batters with breaking balls out of the zone.  He hit 97 on the gun frequently, but got his first swinging strikeout on a nasty slider, 1-2 in the count, darting out of the zone.  The other two outs were a weakly hit fly ball and ground ball.

 

Meyer's second inning was likely indicative of why the Twins are proceeding so slowly with the pitcher. As good as his delivery looked in the 1st inning, in the 2nd, it all turned a little sloppy.  21 pitches thrown in the inning, of which 10 were balls.  After getting the first Louisville batter out on a ground ball after 2 pitches, Meyer continued throwing mostly 97 MPH fast balls, but continually missed badly in a 5 pitch walk to the next "Bat" up.  The next man hit a ground ball single on yet another 97 MPH fastball.  With two runners now on, Pino paid a visit to the mound, the next man worked the count to 3-1 (one of only 4 PAs that resulted in 3 or more balls in the count) before Meyer coaxed a pop up out out of his slider.  Finally, with an assortment of all of his pitches, Meyer worked out of the jam with a 6-pitch ground ball out to end the 2nd.

 

Meyer made the necessary mental corrections for the 3rd inning. His form had returned to his first inning smoothness, and he noticeably looked like he had shifted a gear in intensity, as well.  He threw 6 pitches, all strikes, getting two ground balls and striking out another with two consecutive change ups taken for strikes.  Meyer continued looking like a man amongst boys in the 4th.  After getting another swinging K on the changeup...he opened up with the second batter in the inning with a devastating 99 MPH fast ball, his first of the game, followed in succession with another strike at 98, again. On a 1-2 pitch, the Louisville batter meekly flied to Danny Ortiz on an 82 MPH slider. For the last man in the 4th, Meyer quickly got ahead, 0-2 with 97 MPH fastballs, and relied on a series of sliders and changes fouled off, before getting the third out on a swinging strike at a slider in the dirt.  18 pitches in the inning, of which 13 were strikes, and now my pre-game concerns were being answered, as we were seeing some really good movement in the breaking pitches that was resulting in keeping the batters guessing and in survival mode, with a series of weak foul balls..

 

Meyer continued throwing a succssion of 98 MPH heaters in the 5th, while toying with trying to get more command on his breaking pitches for an out pitch.  After striking out the first batter swinging on a 98 special, he lost the next batter on 3 straight poorly thrown breakers.  Not to be dissuaded, Meyer went right after the next man- 2 more devastating 98 MPHers, and then two sliders, the second of which resulted in a weak flailing attempt and Meyer's 6th K of the day.  A weak 6-4 ground out on yet another 98 FB ended the inning.

 

After 5 innings, Meyer now sat at 73 pitches with 48 strikes and 6 Ks. He was sailing through the Louisville lineup, riding on a 4-0 Rochester lead, and having given up only one hit, and only one hard hit ball.  However, it was clear that he wasn't gong to be around long, as AJ Achter was warming in the pen as Meyer's 6th inning began.  After the leadoff man hit a ground ball single back through the middle, Meyer again got a K looking, on the change up.  One out now, and Meyer opened up the next man with a change and two sliders, all for balls.  Meyer then threw a 99 MPH fastball that appeared to be right down the middle, but the umpire called it Ball Four- still throwing nearly 100 MPH with his pitch count in the 80s!.  Meyer now had runners on 1 and 2 with one out.  He then went 98 FB, 83 SL (ball), 98 FB and then 81 SL in the dirt for a swinging Strike 3-  and he recorded his 8th K in 5.2 innings.  Although looking completely in command of the game, he had just crossed the 90-pitch threshold, thus giving way for AJ Achter.  And then Achter promptly walked the next man to load the bases, which was followed by a mix-up in communication between Achter and Pinto, resulting in a Wild Pitch and a run scored.  After a two-run double, the inning was over, but with the score now 4-3.

 

As we can see, although Meyer was charged with 2 ERs, it was not an accurate reflection of how truly dominant his performance actually was. To reiterate, in the 5.2 IP, he struck out 8, walked 3, and gave up only 2 ground ball hits.  He had his highest swinging strike ratio of the year, at just under 23%, 55% GB rate, and again, only 2 LD in 22 batters faced. I don't think I can overstate the point that this performance last night looked more like a training exercise on Meyer's part than a competitive game while he was pitching- it just looked that easy for him. Over his last seven starts, Meyer has posted a 1.77 ERA in 40.2 IP, with a 1.06 WHIP, 10 K/9, 28.1 K%....  while limiting opposing hitters to a .159 batting average.

 

The Verdict

 

The conclusion I came to is that the reports of his progress are accurate,  Meyer appears to be fully healthy and it's very easy to ascertain- he's utterly unafraid to air it all out whenever he feels the need. He is working hard on improving his command, especially with the change, and that, along with the innings and pitch count limitations, are what's keeping Meyer from pitching for the Twins.  After Sunday's game, I feel my previous opinion that Meyer is too advanced for AAA hitters has been confirmed.  The only question still up for debate is:  where would Meyer's next step in development best be served?...AAA or with the Twins?  My vote is he would be pitching this Saturday in the open starting slot against Samardzija and the Oakland A's, but of course the Twins will want Meyer's first appearance to be at Target Field.  I will remain skeptical, but hopeful, that with Meyer now at 112 IP, his remaining 28 innings or so will be after a call-up to the big club for the Big Unit 2.0 on the next homestand....perhaps Monday, August 18 vs. Kansas City, which would line up nicely with his current schedule.

 

640_Meyer_Joe_Territo_Rochester_Red_Wing

Edited by jokin, 05 August 2014 - 01:12 PM.

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#2 drjim

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:42 PM

Thanks for the write up, good stuff.

Papers...business papers.

#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:42 PM

Great report Jokin. It's so valuable to get to see these minor leaguers in person if possible to make you own impressions, even if it is based on the small sample size of one game. 

 

I don't think you'll find anyone who disagrees that his stuff is incredible. It sounds like you got to see him on a night when he had good stuff and good command. 


#4 Thrylos

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:07 PM

Good stuff.

 

Did you notice whether we was doing any stretch resistance work (with large rubber bands) on the shoulder before he started tossing in the pen before the game?

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#5 notoriousgod71

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:13 PM

He needs twelve more years of seasoning.

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#6 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:23 PM

Awesome so we can expect him to be up by....oh nevermind.

 

sigh.jpg

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#7 DocBauer

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 09:19 PM

Thank you for such an outstanding and thorough report. And may I say I'm very jealous of your experience!

I think Meyer's potential is beyond obvious. And his build and seemingly easy motion for a big kid would indicate an ability to throw 100 pitches routinely. I understand the Twins staff monitoring his pitch count, but would really like to have seen him BA able to throw a few more pitches in an attempt to finish the inning.

I am of the belief that even limited exposure at the ML level could really help Meyer's development as he is just so close to being ready. But we have heard repeatedly, and your own observations and comments seem to confirm, that while mostly dominant, there is enough lack of control to indicate he is not yet to the point of economizing his pitches. Like everyone else, I can't wait to see him up, and part of the rotation. But I still believe patience is not only a virtue, but it's own reward. And I think he is still lacking just that little bit better control to make him more effective once he comes up.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

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#8 jokin

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:01 PM

Good stuff.

 

Did you notice whether we was doing any stretch resistance work (with large rubber bands) on the shoulder before he started tossing in the pen before the game?

 

Yeah, Thry, that was the first thing I was looking for.  He went from the dugout straight out to RF and did long-toss with Pinto before taking the bullpen mound  Not sure if he does his band work earlier on in the pre-game, either in the dugout or in the OF.

Edited by jokin, 04 August 2014 - 10:17 PM.


#9 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:11 PM

Used to be the Twins didn't have any prospects worth bringing up, and, the ones they did bring up were sub-standard and got shelled.  Now, apparently, the Twins prospects are too good to bring up, because the Twins will lose the benefit of their service time.  And, since the Twins are a lousy team, why bring them up?

 

In the end, it's never quite the right fit between the Twins and their prospects, so no matter how much we relish the prospect of.... prospects, the Twins will find a reason why it just doesn't work. 

 

Getting a little tired of all the games without prospects.  It's like we don't even have any prospects,  Or maybe not an MLB team.  I can't decide which.


#10 jokin

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 10:44 AM

Used to be the Twins didn't have any prospects worth bringing up, and, the ones they did bring up were sub-standard and got shelled.  Now, apparently, the Twins prospects are too good to bring up, because the Twins will lose the benefit of their service time.  And, since the Twins are a lousy team, why bring them up?

 

In the end, it's never quite the right fit between the Twins and their prospects, so no matter how much we relish the prospect of.... prospects, the Twins will find a reason why it just doesn't work. 

 

Getting a little tired of all the games without prospects.  It's like we don't even have any prospects,  Or maybe not an MLB team.  I can't decide which.

 

Yes Cap, especially after watching the game in Louisville on Sunday night, it does get frustrating.  As Will Middlebrooks said earlier in the season:  "Who did (Meyer) infuriate enough to keep him down here? Are there really 5 better starters in Minnesota than him?"  If the Twins intent here is to wait for perfection in Meyer in terms of...(take your pick):  mechanics, control, command, third pitch.... they are going to be waiting for a long, long time.

 

FWIW, the Wings weren't exactly sporting a lot of prospects in their lineup, either.  Hermann was  on the DL .  Florimon was playing 3rd (throwing error), presumably to learn how to become a utility player (he is hitting a lot better than earlier in the season).  Pinto looked OK behind the plate, but he did have a communication mix-up that led to a run scoring on a wild pitch. At the plate, he's become a much different hitter than he was with the Twins, as he's become extremely selective in his approach (he rapped out two hits on the night).  

 

The best-looking position player was Danny Ortiz, who looked good in LF and takes the exact opposite approach at the plate from Pinto.  He just missed a home run that went foul and he got the barrel of the bat- and was really dialed in way ahead of the pitches coming his way- all night....he had at least one hard hit ball in all 7 PAs.  He ended up with 4 hits and two doubles.  Over the last 20 games or so, he's batting about .290, with close to an .800 OPS, he looks like he has the chance make a pretty good ML 4th OF, but I'm not sure how he looks in CF.

Edited by jokin, 05 August 2014 - 01:20 PM.


#11 spycake

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 11:02 AM

Are these Meyer/May threads getting moved from the Twins forum to the Minors forum?  That totally makes sense from a organization and administration perspective... but it feels a little like an authoritarian government trying to suppress an uprising. :)

 

If they're not up soon, I could see the Twins asking Google to start filtering search results in the upper midwest. :)

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#12 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 11:25 AM

Are these Meyer/May threads getting moved from the Twins forum to the Minors forum?  That totally makes sense from a organization and administration perspective... but it feels a little like an authoritarian government trying to suppress an uprising. :)

 

If they're not up soon, I could see the Twins asking Google to start filtering search results in the upper midwest. :)

I moved them.  Yes, because I am an authoritative government.  Minor league content, primarily, even if we all think Meyer and May should be in the majors, they aren't yet.  So, in terms of organizing, which, being a librarian, I can't help myself, the minor league forum is where I have cataloged these ... until further notice, which I hope is soon.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.


#13 spycake

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 11:38 AM

Librarian?  Should we be organizing the forums by the Dewey Decimal System?  (Or perhaps the Dwight Evans Decimal System?)


#14 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 11:41 AM

Librarian?  Should we be organizing the forums by the Dewey Decimal System?  (Or perhaps the Dwight Evans Decimal System?)

I'd prefer LOC, but I'm not that 'kind' of librarian anyway.  But still like things organized.  

 

End thread-jack ... back to topic.  :)

Edited by ChiTownTwinsFan, 05 August 2014 - 11:42 AM.

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#15 kdrupp09

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 01:28 PM

I live in Kentucky and just could not make it to this game, so a huge thanks to Jokin for giving this update.  I really hope that the Twins are on the verge of making moves to bring up both May and Meyer and for all the discussion about Meyer and the 40 man, I think we can all agree he is going to be added in November when he has to be anyway, so make the move, dump Florimon and give him the spot and get him to Minneapolis where he belongs.

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#16 jokin

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 03:51 PM

I live in Kentucky and just could not make it to this game, so a huge thanks to Jokin for giving this update.  I really hope that the Twins are on the verge of making moves to bring up both May and Meyer and for all the discussion about Meyer and the 40 man, I think we can all agree he is going to be added in November when he has to be anyway, so make the move, dump Florimon and give him the spot and get him to Minneapolis where he belongs.

 

 

Thanks for the attaboy, kdrupp09.  I really enjoyed my visit to your state. And now, we have lots of things going on in Lousiville concerning the Wings.  Both Hicks and Milone make their Red Wing debut this evening.

 

A little addendum to Sunday's game, gone largely unnoticed given Meyer's dominating performance, the Red Wings rallied to tie the game in the 9th, and won it in 15, with catcher, Dan Rohlfing making his first appearance as a pitcher and getting the save.  H/T to Alex Meyer for being a team guy to the end on Twitter:

 

 

Alex MeyerVerified account
‏@Meyer17A

 

What a game and a huge congrats to @DanRohlfing for coming up huge with the save tonight!