Alex Meyer doesn’t shy away from the power-pitcher label. The 6-foot-9 right-hander readily acknowledges having a big fastball. It won’t be long before it’s on display at Target Field.
The Minnesota Twins acquired Meyer in the November 2012 deal that sent Denard Span to the Washington Nationals. A year earlier, Washington had drafted him 23rd overall out of the University of Kentucky.
Limited to fewer than 80 regular-season innings because of a tender shoulder, Meyer finished up the year with the Arizona Fall League’s Glendale Desert Dogs. The 23-year-old talked about his power arsenal during the last week of the AFL campaign. Also weighing in on his game — and his future — were Twins general manager Terry Ryan, and manager Ron Gardenhire.
Meyer on his 2013 season: “When I was out on the field, it was definitely a positive. The negative is that I had to miss two months. Fortunately, I got back out there and finished the season healthy. I threw the ball well down in instructs. I’ve thrown the ball well here in the fall league, and before that, I got a few starts in New Britain. So everything has come back from the injury. I’m honestly throwing the ball as well as I ever have.”
On velocity: “I usually sit anywhere from 95-98 [mph]. That’s where I was this season, pretty much throughout. Out here, I’ve topped out at 100 a couple of times, maybe 101. I was able to get it up there pretty well in my first start, and that was pretty big. It showed me there was nothing to worry about, that everything is back.
“Velocity is important for me. I’m a power pitcher. It’s a comfort thing to know you have your good stuff and can run a fastball up there against a hitter. It’s a nice thing to have.”
On the power-pitcher label: “I like it. I embrace it. It’s what I want to be. I’m a strikeout guy and don’t like giving up hits. I’m trying to cut down on the walks, but yeah, a power pitcher is what I want to be. I watch guys on TV, like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Matt Harvey. They’re as good as anybody in the game, and I aspire to be looked at as that type of guy.”
On his repertoire: “I’ll throw two-seam fastballs, trying to get the same backspin on it. But there are definitely times, like on 0-2 when I want to get one by a guy, where I’ll go four-seamer.
“I throw a circle change, which is 87 to 91. My knuckle-curve is a big pitch for me. It’s anywhere from 82 to 88. It’s a pitch my dad showed me in high school. The guy who showed it to him called it a knuckle-curve, so that’s what I call it.
“I try to get two different breaks on it. There’s one I throw with maybe more of a slider grip, and there’s one where I try to get more of a 12-to-6 action; it’s more of an actual curveball grip. I can do a couple of different things with the pitch.”
On his mechanics: “They’re trying to close up my front side a little bit, to help me stay on top of the ball and get better angle, and obviously better command. I feel I’m making huge strides with that. There are still times I’ll fight my command, but I’m a lot better at making a one-pitch adjustment to get back to where I need to be.”
On development and different perspectives: “There aren’t necessarily any differences [between the Nationals and Twins systems]. The Twins have been helping me out with the same things the Nationals did, in regard to my command and my changeup. For the most part, they’re pretty similar; there’s nothing drastic, or notably different.
“My catcher out here, Tucker Barnhart, was actually my summer ball catcher, growing up. I was kind of lucky in that respect, because he knows me. My pitching coach here [Tom Browning] is awesome. His philosophy, and style of pitching. I can talk to him about what I need to work on, and his way of going about it is very beneficial. He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever worked with.
“I haven’t really talked to any opposing hitters [about what it‘s like to face him]. Not down here, anyway. I’ve talked to a few buddies I faced in college, but they haven’t really gone into depth. All they really say is that I throw hard.”
Terry Ryan: “Meyer will be in major league camp and we’ll let him pretty much dictate [how ready he is]. Unfortunately, he missed two months at New Britain, which is not the ideal summer. He caught up a little bit in the Fall League and did well there. He’s got some of the best stuff we’ve got, if not the best stuff.
“I’m hoping he’s a fast mover. Whether or not he can beat out some of these other people… he’s coming out of Double-A — and not even a full year in Double-A — so we’re not going to push it. We’ll let him progress and see how he responds. We’ll go from there.”
Ron Gardenhire: “Whether he’s ready for this or not, he’ll tell us. He hasn’t pitched in Triple-A yet. He had some shoulder injuries last year and we had to back him off a little bit. He missed some time [but] had a heck of an Arizona Fall League.
“To say he’s going to make my team out of spring training… I’ll never say no. I don’t want any player coming in to spring training thinking they don’t have a chance. But he’s a long shot, just because he didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year, and we want to make sure we do the right thing. But he has a definite chance, sometime next year, probably, to get a chance to pitch.”
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.