Game 145, Mariners at Angels
Taijuan Walker vs. Alex Meyer, 7:05pm
It’s a late-season battle between two former top prospects whose stock has dropped of late!
I mentioned Alex Meyer in yesterday’s post, as he was a part of the deal that brought Ricky Nolasco to Anaheim. In addition to swapping back-of-the-rotation starters, the Twins and Angels also swapped hard-throwing enigmas who seemed destined for middle relief. Alex Meyer was a first-round pick by the Nationals who moved to the Twins in exchange for Denard Span. Meyer touched 98, and while he had control issues, he was a college arm and seemed to offer a limitless upside. In the Twins system, he posted gaudy K/9 ratios, but didn’t dominate thanks to a consistently-high BABIP and control problems. While he showed signs of improvement this year, shoulder pain’s limited him to just a handful of innings.
Despite being drafted a year later than Walker, Meyer’s 2 years older; he’ll turn 27 before next season. Physically, Meyer’s gigantic – he stands 6’9″ and at 225 pounds, is essentially what scouts have in mind when they talk about an ideal frame. Sure, sure, long limbed pitchers can have trouble repeating their delivery and all, but 6’9″ guys throwing 96 always seem to go higher in the draft than a 5’9″ guy throwing 96 “at max effort.” Meyer had a great junior season at the University of Kentucky, but struggled mightily with his control in his time there. Contrast this with Marcus Stroman, who K’d more and walked fewer and dominated at Duke and went in roughly the same draft slot a year later.
Meyer has a surprisingly low release point for a power-forward-shaped pitcher, so he doesn’t get a ton of vertical rise on his fastball. It’s got some horizontal movement, though, and it comes in at 96, touching 98-99. His primary breaking ball’s a curveball thrown at 85, and he’s also got a change-up. Despite the arm angle, his pitch mix looks like a fly-ball pitcher’s, and that’s what he’s been thus far in the majors (all of 9 IP!). Even in the minors, he’s been neutral- to fly-ball heavy. That plays well in Anaheim’s fly-ball suppressing park, and it *should* help with his long-standing BABIP problem. That hasn’t happened yet, as his BABIP’s been sky high thus far. That’s a problem that afflicted Taijuan Walker last year and, to a degree, James Paxton this year. I’d love to know more about how/why this can happen, and yes, I’m aware that “bad luck” is always a factor in a situation like this. But there’s no reason a guy like Meyer should give up so many hits – he *really* shouldn’t have in AA, but it’s still true in MLB.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Zunino, C
7: Martin, CF
8: Vogelbach, 1B
9: Marte, SS
Adam Lind’s injured finger gives Dan Vogelbach the opportunity to get his first MLB start. He pinch hit last night to make his MLB debut, hustled down the line to avoid a DP, but then made a really dumb out on the basepaths when he missed 2nd base trying to go 1st to 3rd.
In the minors last night, the big story was the elimination of the Bakersfield Blaze. The team that’s called Sam Lynn home for 75 years lost their Cal League series against Visalia and will be contracted. Such a sad situation. Full credit for a great broadcast in surreal circumstances to Dan Besbris and David Gascon.
Jackson won game 1 of their series against Mississippi, with Tyler O’Neill leading the charge with 2 hits including a double. Andrew Moore was solid once again, tossing 6 IP and yielding 2 runs with 2 strikeouts and 0 walks. Brett Ash starts game 2 tonight against ex-Angels prospect and Alex Meyer 2.0, Sean Newcomb.
Clinton beat Peoria with a walk-off shutout (what else), 1-0 in 11 innings. Nick Neidert was the star of the show, pitching 7 scoreless with 9 Ks against 0 walkss and giving up just 3 hits. One of those hits was a lead-off double in the 5th, and after a wild pitch, the Kernels had a man on 3rd with no outs. Rayder Ascanio then made a pair of great plays at SS, and then Neidert got out of the inning with a pop-up. Ricky Eusebio’s single in the 11th scored Logan Taylor for the walk-off win. They’ll start the MWL championship series on Wednesday against either the Great Lakes Loons or the West Michigan White Caps.
Ljay Newsome gave up 0 HRs, just as I suggested, and dominated the Eugene Emeralds in Everett’s 7-1 win. Newsome K’d 6 in 6 IP and didn’t walk anyone. Eric Filia had 3 hits and 3 RBIs. Everett faces off with the Emeralds’ top starter, Manuel Rondon. Rondon’s yet another ex-Angels farmhand, who moved to the Cubs in a minor trade and took off this season, posting 1.10 ERA in 12 starts to take the NWL pitcher of the year honors. That said, he’s 21 and in short-season ball, so he doesn’t appear on the Cubs’ top prospect lists, but the lefty can apparently touch the mid-90s, so he may jump into the top 20 in an admittedly loaded system next year.