LA Angels Pitcher Alex Meyer Is A Big Prospect In More Ways Than One.

September 18, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Meyer (40) throws in the first inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
September 18, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Meyer (40) throws in the first inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

When the LA Angels acquired pitcher Alex Meyer from the Twins along with Ricky Nolasco it turned some heads.  Many people saw the Nolasco-Hector Santiago part of trade as a wash. Meyer was considered the wildcard of the deal.

When LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler decided to trade one of the coveted Angels starting pitchers at the 2016 non-waiver deadline he knew what he wanted. Prospects, prospects, and more prospects.  When the Twins inquired about Hector Santiago’s availability, Eppler immediately told them he was, but for the right price.

The two teams went back and forth and Eppler also explored deals other teams had offered him for Santiago or for his teammate Matt Shoemaker.  In the end and I do mean the very end (10 minutes before the trade deadline) Eppler and interim Twins general manager Rob Antony came to an agreement on a trade involving Alex Meyer.

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Antony’s job was to cut payroll and get a quality pitcher in return.  He didn’t cut any payroll but he didn’t take on any either as Ricky Nolasco and Hector Santiago’s contracts came close to matching and the Twins agreed to pay the difference (roughly $3 million).  Twins fans were overjoyed as Nolasco’s poor performance had worn out his welcome in Minnesota.

Meyer at one time had been the Twins top pitching prospect, but injuries and ineffectiveness had dropped him down in minds of Twins ownership so Meyer was considered expendable. When the Angels acquired Meyer they knew he was a risk as he hadn’t pitched since early May due to an arm injury.

Meyer calmed the team’s fears when he was able to throw a couple of games in late August for various levels of Angels minor league teams. Meyer made two starts and three relief appearances in August for the Angels Rookie League team, Inland Empire, and Salt Lake City.  In 11.2 inning Meyer gave up 11 hits and four earned runs for an ERA of 3.86.  He walked only two batters while striking out 21 batters and had a WHIP of 1.11.

What makes Meyer standout even more is his 6’9 230 pound frame.  He looks very imposing on the mound and the fact that he is wild makes Meyer even more intimidating.  Meyer was a first round pick out of the University of Kentucky when he was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2011.  Twins acquired Meyer in a deal for outfielder Denard Span in late 2012, but did not make it to the majors until 2015 when he pitched in two games for the Twins.

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So in September the Angels called up Meyer to the majors hoping he would fare better than his stint with the Twins when appeared in two games for the Twins in late April and early May.  He pitched 3.2 innings giving up five earned runs on eight hits, while walking four and striking out five.  His ERA was 12.27 and his WHIP was 3.27.

On September 7th Meyer took the mound for the first time as a Los Angeles Angel.  He pitched 3.1 innings against the Oakland A’s giving up one hit and four walks while striking out five. Meyer took the loss in the game. His first home start was against Seattle on September 13th going four innings and giving up four runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

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Meyer showed his tremendous potential in his first two outings reaching as high as 97 on the radar gun, but his wildness (6 walks in 7.1 innings) was concerning. In his third start with the Angels against the playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays, Meyer was lights out.  He pitched five shutout innings giving up two hits and three walks while striking out seven Blue Jay hitters and picking up his first Major League victory in a 4-0 shutout.

Meyer pitched two more games against Houston and Oakland totaling 9.1 innings giving up nine hits and six earned run, striking out nine batters and walking four.  Meyer finished with a 4.57 ERA for the Angels pitching 21.2 innings giving up 17 hits and 11 earned runs.  He waked 13 batters and struck out 24 and had a 1.38 WHIP while holding opponents to a .215 batting average.

The question everyone wants to know is if Meyer is ready to assume the role as a starting pitcher (most likely 5th starter) in the Angels rotation in 2017.  My opinion is yes he is.  I watched Meyer pitch live and he has electric stuff.  He will have to harness his control and learn how minimize the damage when things start to get out of hand, but I think he is definitely ready.

Next: Local Boy Ricky Nolasco Looking Good For Angels

If Meyer can harness his stuff he could be number two or number three starter and potential All-Star.  However, that is an awfully big IF.  The potential though is there for Meyer we will just have to wait and see if he can reach it.

GRADE: C+ (small sample size and wildness)