Minnesota Twins prospect Alex Meyer has a tall order on his hands as he attempts to climb the ladder for his new team in 2013.
As the prospect sent over from the Washington Nationals in the Denard Span trade, Meyer was the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac, he went 10-6 with a 2.86 earned run average in a performance that will make him a top-100 prospect on many lists this spring.
With Meyer expected to begin the season at Double-A New Britain, it's unlikely that he'll be able to crack the major league rotation.
However, Meyer will already make an impact in 2013 at the major league level even if he doesn't debut for the Twins.
Meyer has assumed the position of the top pitching prospect in the Twins' farm system. For a system that used to be loaded with young talent, Minnesota has fallen on hard times.
The Twins haven't had a premier pitching prospect race through the system since Matt Garza was selected 25th overall in the 2005 June Amateur Draft and debuted just 14 months later.
(Note: Current prospect Kyle Gibson was on a similar track in 2011, but had to be shut down after needing Tommy John surgery at the end of that season.)
If Meyer can pick up where he left off in the Nationals' system, there's a chance that he could make his major league debut sooner than anybody expected.
An early debut for Meyer would put pressure on the major league rotation all season long.
In 2012, the Twins finished 14th in the American League with an earned run average of 4.77. Such an awful performance by the team's veteran starters suggests that no spot in the starting rotation is safe heading into this season.
A slow start will get the veterans looking over their shoulder if Meyer can make an early charge at the beginning of the season.
But what if the rotation is better than expected and the Twins become the surprise team of 2013? Then Alex Meyer becomes their secret weapon.
More pitching prospects are starting to make their debut out of the bullpen despite being considered high-ceiling starting pitchers. Neftali Feliz, Adam Wainwright and Matt Moore all made their major league debuts out of the bullpen in recent years.
With a 9.7 strikeout-per-nine ratio in 2012, the Twins will have to give serious thought to using Meyer out of the bullpen in intense situations if it means capturing the American League Central Championship.
All of this assumes that both Meyer and the Twins have a healthy and successful season. But with Meyer's track record, it can be assumed that he'll continue his rise toward the major league club and at the least have some people looking over their shoulders in 2013.
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