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Top prospect countdown: #4 Alex Meyer

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Meyer-SP/RP

The Angels probably took on more risk than they had to when they acquired Meyer as a primary return from the Hector Santiago trade at the deadline. In doing so, they acquired a oft-injured 26 year-old starting pitching prospect who couldn’t find the strike zone, a problem which worsened as he climbed each rung of the minors. It’s no secret that Meyer can strike out or walk the side in any given inning: when he’s good, he’s unstoppable but when he’s bad, he spirals out of control. This combination makes him a highly intriguing player to follow.

He recovered from his shoulder injury to make five September starts and the results were decidedly mixed: a 4.57 ERA (3.93 FIP), a 9.97 K/9, 5.40 BB/9, and 0.83 HR/9. That’s simply too many walks in a game to succeed at this level.

Make no mistake; while Meyer is a pitcher that has more than his fair share of warts, a lack of tools isn’t one of them. During his time in Anaheim, Meyer’s sink-heavy fastball sat around 95-97 with his slider around 86 mph. His lanky 6-foot 9 frame makes it extremely difficult to maintain his mechanics throughout the game, which sometimes resulted in bursts of ineffectiveness. However, extra-tall pitchers like Meyer usually take a longer time than average to figure it out; it didn’t all click for 6’6” reliever Andrew Miller until his age-28 season. Just imagine how it is for someone who is three inches taller.

Because of his height and injury history, Meyer is a very risky pitching prospect but he has all the tools to succeed: a pitching coach who understands mechanics, premium velocity, and a plus breaking ball to compensate for inconsistencies in command. He could fix his command issues in several ways, including taking a few mph off pitches to improve mechanics and command or adding another secondary pitch to keep hitters off balance. He would profile extremely well in the bullpen, but the organization is still holding out hope he can develop into a starter.

I’ve soured on him a bit but still believe his command will improve enough to the point where he can be a #5 starter, at the very least. He has #3 starter or back-end bullpen upside if things go right.