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Meyer's stature rising on the mound

Tall right-hander delivers dominating mix of fastball, slider and changeup

Pitching prospect Alex Meyer probably had to build a new trophy case for all the hardware he accumulated from his high school and college awards.

Now, as a 23-year-old right-handed power starter in the Twins organization, Meyer is refining his skills to face the best hitters in the game. More awards may eventually come his way.

Meyer is a huge presence on the mound.

With a 6-foot-9 frame that reminds observers of the 6-foot-10 Randy Johnson or Washington's Chris Young at 6-foot-10, Meyer can be dominating on the mound.

A multi-sport athlete and letter winner, Meyer won high praise while pitching for Greensburg (Ind.) High School. He was named Indiana's Mr. Baseball, All-State Indiana and on and on. As a senior, he had an 8-0 record and a 0.95 ERA in 51 innings. He struck out 108, while walking only 30.

The Boston Red Sox selected Meyer in the 20th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. While the signing bonus was extensive, Meyer chose to attend the University of Kentucky.

Meyer was outstanding at Kentucky.

After a great year as a freshman, he missed a bit of time as a sophomore because of a bout with mononucleosis. But he came back strong to complete his second stellar season pitching for the Wildcats.

He finished his junior season as the Southeastern Conference leader in strikeouts, innings pitched per game, complete games and shutouts.

The Nationals chose Meyer with the 23rd pick of the first round in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

In his rookie season, he threw to an ERA of 2.86 and a WHIP of 1.10, covering 129 innings. He was a starter pitching for Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac.

In November 2012, Meyer was traded to the Twins for outfielder Denard Span.

This past season at Double-A New Britain, Meyer started 13 games and pitched 70 innings. He gave up 60 hits and walked 29, leading to a WHIP of 1.27. He had an ERA of 3.21 and a 4-3 record. Meyer struck out 84, or an average of 10.8 per nine innings.

I scouted Meyer in several starts during the recently concluded Arizona Fall League.

Meyer threw 26 innings in seven starts for his Glendale club. He gave up 20 hits and walked seven for a WHIP of 1.04. He struck out 28 and finished the season with a 2-1 record and a 3.12 ERA.

Meyer was the starter for the West team in the AFL Fall Stars game, pitching three scoreless innings.

Meyer has moments on the mound when he can't be hit. He induces swings and misses with a 95-98 mph fastball, a slider and a knee-buckling, sinking 83-mph changeup.

Meyer's fastball can be classified as "electric." He uses it early in the count, and it sets up other pitches.

I think Meyer's sharp slider is a terrific secondary pitch that changes the eye level of the hitters. He can use any of the three pitches at any time in the count to get those swings or induce ground balls.

There are times, however, when he has trouble making his lanky arms and legs work in sync with his three-quarters arm slot. In those instances, he fails to repeat his clean delivery, he lands awkwardly, flies open and loses command. It can happen to him quickly.

And just as quickly, his smoother delivery returns.

Awkward. That's how Meyer looks when he's out of sync.

Dominating. That's how Meyer is when everything works in harmony. And it works in harmony most of the time.

Meyer can be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He may have high pitch counts as hitters foul off his pitches when they are unable to make good contact. More often than not, however, they will likely swing and miss or pound the ball into the ground.

When everything is working well, Meyer can be overpowering and control the game.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.
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