The Twins “will proceed slowly,” Paul Molitor said on Monday, with top pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
Three days later, they sped things up.
Meyer, considered the Twins’ top starting pitching prospect since he was acquired in a trade nearly three years ago, will join the team in Milwaukee on Friday and likely make his major league debut in a relief role against the Brewers this weekend.
It’s an indication that the Twins might be giving up on Meyer someday heading their rotation, his presumed future role since they traded Denard Span to acquire the 2011 first-round pick from Washington in November 2012. Meyer failed to make the rotation in spring training due to problems with his control, and those problems just worsened at Class AAA Rochester, where he posted a 2-3 record with a 7.09 ERA as a starter.
Moved to the bullpen out of desperation, Meyer reverted to his top-prospect form, giving up only one earned run in 17 innings as a reliever, a 0.53 ERA that included 20 strikeouts and just six walks.
“He wasn’t succeeding much, so we’re trying to get him right. We’d rather have starting pitching, but sometimes you have to step back to go forward, and it looks like it’s worked,” General Manager Terry Ryan said Sunday. “That’s all you want.”
It’s possible Meyer, rated the 29th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, could someday return to being a starter, but Ryan and Molitor clearly are intrigued by the effect the 25-year-old’s 97 mile-per-hour fastball could have in the Twins bullpen, which has turned shaky behind closer Glen Perkins of late. Twins relievers other than Perkins have posted a 4.53 ERA in June, and the bullpen’s overall strikeout rate of 5.98 per nine innings is by far the lowest in the major leagues.
“The reports are really good. He’s throwing it over, throwing it hard, using his offspeed pitches,” Molitor said of Meyer on Monday. “Obviously, when we talk about people who might help us, his name is going to come up.”