Fort Myers, Fla.
Alex Meyer has already impressed at Minnesota Twins spring training. Throwing live batting practice Sunday to a group of players that included Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia and Alex Presley, Meyer didn't allow much contact with a blazing fastball and snapping curve ball.
"He runs it up there pretty good,” Presley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press afterward. “It looks like he’s got some stuff going on there. I’ve never seen him pitch in a game, but there are certain things you see that you know are going to translate (to the majors).”
Meyer is one of the young prospects the Twins are pinning their hopes on. He was acquired from the Washington Nationals organization a little over a year ago in the Denard Span trade. He was with the Twins in spring training in 2013, but struggled with injuries at Double-A New Britain.
With presumably only one spot open in the starting rotation, Meyer is in the mix to make the majors.
"I think there is a chance, I just don't know how good they are," Meyer said. "Nobody is coming into this camp completely X'd out from a spot on this roster, otherwise I don't think they would've invited us.
"At some point this season they are probably going to need someone, so I just want to show them that I'm close and give them the confidence to bring me up if they need someone."
Meyer is enough to make a pitching coach drool. He is 6-foot-9 and has a fastball in the mid-90s. His curve ball has a big downward break. Meyer says he needs to continue to work on his changeup.
The former first round draft pick of the Nationals admits he's still on a learning curve at the tender age of 24. Moving up to Double-A last year had its challenges.
"The hitters are noticeably better than high-A, a lot more patience, just a better ballplayer in general. It was a quicker game, a lot faster process. you picked up things you didn't learn at the lower levels ... it continues to help you get better as you move up," Meyer said.
"If you make a mistake they are much more likely to hit it. At the lower levels you can get away with some stuff. In Double-A, if you are throwing 95 miles per hour and don't have anything to go with it, it's not going to scare anybody, they're going to be able to get a swing on it. They are just a lot more polished. I can't imagine how polished the hitters in the big leagues are. They are just more well-rounded in every way as you move up."
But, Meyer said, he believes he has the stuff to pitch in the majors now.
"The stuff is there now, I don't think that's a question," he said. "I just have to work on a few things."
Meyer spent his offseason substitute teaching in his hometown of Greensburg, Ind. He made $63 per day. It wasn't a money thing, like the old days when big-leaguers worked in the offseason to supplement their incomes. Meyer signed a $2 million contract with the Nationals after being drafted 23rd overall in 2011.
"My first offseason I was bored at home, didn't really know what to do, so mom told me I should look into substitute teaching," Meyer said. "I've done it the last few years. It's good. It's fun to be able to go back and be around the kids and the teachers."
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