Star Tribune

Alex Meyer has the pitches Twins have lacked for years

General Manager Terry Ryan doesn't plan cautious approach.

Article by: LaVELLE E. NEAL IIIl , Star Tribune

Updated: December 1, 2012 - 9:24 AM

Righthander Alex Meyer tumbled to the 20th round of the draft in 2008 because teams believed he was determined to play college baseball at Kentucky. That didn't stop the Boston Red Sox from drafting him and offering him a $2 million bonus.

It was an eye-popping offer for that round, but Meyer had eye-popping talent.

Meyer's family made an equally surprising decision. They turned down the money. So the kid from Indiana went to Kentucky.

"I get a lot of grief for that one," Meyer said with a chuckle. "I grew up liking Kentucky. I've never been a IU fan. I'm definitely not an IU fan now."

Everything has turned out well for Meyer, the newest member of the Twins organization. He followed his parents' wishes and went to Kentucky, where he matured. He was drafted in the first round in 2011 by Washington -- getting a $2 million signing bonus -- and now has been traded to the Twins, who are desperate for a pitcher with his potential.

"It was a good maturing process for me, learning about baseball," Meyer said on Friday from his home in Greensburg, Ind. "It was the right decision for me."

The Twins sent starting center fielder Denard Span to the Nationals in return for Meyer, a gamble they hope will pay off soon. The 6-foot-9 Meyer throws a sinking baseball in the mid-90s, a four-seam (straight) fastball that approaches 100, a slider that scouts consider to be above average, a changeup and a curveball. He has the equipment to be the No. 1 starter the Twins have lacked for years.

Meyer was listed at 6-7 and 200 pounds his senior year in high school, and his best fastball was around 95. He's added height, weight, velocity and a good feel for a changeup since then.

Before he was traded to the Twins, MLB.com ranked Meyer as the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals' system and 50th in all of baseball.

He split time last season between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Potomac, going 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA. In 129 innings, he walked 45 batters and struck out 139.

Since he's coming out of A ball, it's safe to assume that Meyer will need a couple of years before he reaches the majors. Indications from the Twins are that Meyer will begin the season at either Class A Fort Myers or Class AA New Britain.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan didn't sound interested in bringing Meyer along slowly. "We'll let the pitcher dictate his ability to go through a system," Ryan said. "This guy is a power-type pitcher who throws it over. That equates to someone who should be able to do some things in the minor leagues and get up here."

Etc.

The Twins demoted righthander Deolis Guerra -- the last remaining player from the Johan Santana trade with the Mets -- to Class AAA Rochester. With Span being traded to Washington, the Twins now have 37 spots filled on their 40-man roster.

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