FORT MYERS, Fla. — Alex Meyer will start the season in Rochester.
The 25-year-old righthander, perhaps the Twins’ best pitching prospect, was optioned to the Class AAA on Friday, one day after he walked four batters in two innings against the Rays.
“He’s behind quite a few guys. We want to make sure we get him consistent work,” general manager Terry Ryan said a few minutes after delivering the news to Meyer. “Hopefully he can get it settled down. … It’s obvious he can strike people out. Now it’s a matter of not getting in so much trouble.”
Meyer has pitched only 5 2/3 innings this spring, and has allowed only one run and four hits, while striking out six. But he walked seven batters, and was discouraged by his inability to throw strikes on Thursday, saying “I’m searching right now. I feel like there’s something mechanically going on.”
Ryan said he believes the 6-foot-10 Meyer’s problems are fixable, and hinted that the former first-round pick, acquired two years ago from Washington for outfielder Denard Span, might not be gone too long.
“You’ve seen the pitches. There’s reason to think once he throws them over and once he has confidence — with those type of pitches, it’s tough to argue against him,” the general manager said. “He’s got the pitches. But we all know, there are guys that, it takes a little more time than others. He’s one of them because mechanically, he’s a big man [and] there’s a lot of moving parts.”
Meyer led the International League by striking out 153 batters in 130 innings at Rochester last season, but his 64 walks were second-most in the league as well. He opened spring training as one of five pitchers vying to become the Twins’ fifth starter this year, a competition that has been whittled, with Meyer’s departure and Tim Stauffer’s move to the bullepen, down to three: Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone and Trevor May.