Your place for Minnesota Twins and New Britain Rock Cats coverage, analysis and opinion.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alex Meyer: Missing High

This post is a little delayed coming. Apologies. But the good news is that I've had time to process a little on Alex Meyer after having seen two of his not-so-good starts. And I've come to a conclusion: when Meyer misses it's because his pitches are high. Those misses are driving up the pitch count, gradually slowing down his fastball, causing him to tire and not go as deep into games as is necessary for the ace pitcher we expect him to become.

I attended one of his recent starts, a losing effort last week against the Binghamton Mets. Meyer started off dominant, but had a rough 4th inning that ended up costing him the game. Instead of focusing on that inning, however, I want to focus on the third inning. It started off innocently enough, with a 4-pitch strikeout and a 1-pitch ground out. Just like that, 5 pitches and 2 outs. But then this:

Check out the pitch locations. Meyer started missing high with 2 outs. As this shot shows, all but 1 pitch was belt-high or higher. Meyer issued this 2-out walk -- a Cardinal Sin in any organization, especially the Twins organization. But he wasn't done. How about the next batter?

As you can see, a 5-pitch walk with all of the pitches high. Basically the same thing, except this batter only swung at a meaty 2-0 pitch. 12 unnecessary pitches and 2 unnecessary walks, before a 2-pitch groundout to end the inning. Several extra pitches in that frame no doubt caused mental and physical fatigue that cost Meyer in the fourth inning.

Meyer issued 3 walks on the night. Here's the screenshot of his final walk. Again, high misses.

The point of this post isn't to suggest that Meyer needs to alter his mechanics or anything like that. I have absolutely no specialized knowledge to that effect. He's 6 feet, 9 inches tall, and his fastball reached 96 on both starts I've attended; I'm 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and may have hit 76 on a hot summer day in White Bear Lake in 1999. Meyer has a knuckle-curve that falls off the table and embarrasses hitters who are expecting the fastball. He has all the makings of a phenomenal pitcher, but something is missing this spring.

The point of this post is to suggest that, in the 14 or so innings I have seen Meyer pitch, when he misses, it's consistently high -- and it's very high. High to the point that batters aren't likely to offer. I could do screen shots from the other start I attended, and I'm confident they would be the same. In fact, I heard Terry Ryan mumble something to this effect when Meyer was laboring in a protracted inning last month.

So what is the solution? Having watched Meyer, I have no doubt that this is mostly a mental issue. He'll get 2 outs, then walk a couple batters with high pitches. Or, alternatively, he'll have 2 great innings, then start walking batters in the 3rd inning. Something temporarily changes. It really strikes me as a composure issue more than anything else. On more than one occasion I've seen Meyer have difficulty with the subsequent batter who follows a guy that reaches on a fielding error or a weak infield single. It's a common problem, and it makes sense to me. It would annoy me to no end to be unable to rely on my fielders. But that's a part of the game Meyer is going to have to learn: he won't be able to strike everyone out, and not every fielder will be Gold Glove caliber.

Some baseball lifers say that the jump from High-A to AA is the most significant. Meyer might be finding that out this spring. Like I've said all along, I have no doubt that he will become the pitcher that we all hope he will be. But it's also important to realize that he's a young kid working out physical -- and mental -- issues along the way. So if you're looking for something to watch for, I would recommend keeping an eye on the walks and composure issues. Is Meyer struggling after 2 outs for no reason? Does he start to miss very high with that fastball? Those are the signs that he's not ready, yet, for the show. But on the whole, those are fixable issues. You can teach a guy to work through a composure issue, but you can't teach a guy to toss 96.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rock Cats: A Tough Week-Plus

If you're familiar with this blog, you know that this image
signifies that the Rock Cats are in the midst
of a losing streak
Just like their parent club, the New Britain Rock Cats have hit a tough spell. In fact, their last victory was May 11 vs. Portland, and since that 5-4 win, the Cats have lost 8 consecutive games. In those 8 games, the Rock Cats have combined to score a grand total of 18 runs, while allowing 52. It's not tough to see the problems: they aren't scoring enough, and are allowing too many runs (how's that for analysis?).

But let's dig a little deeper. There are other things -- some good -- at play. First, infielder James Beresford, who had been on the disabled list with a pulled groin, just returned to action this past weekend. Beresford had been off to a hot start before missing 2 weeks. In his first 4 games back, he has 6 hits (in 17 at-bats), and is batting .340 on the season. I frequently write about Beresford, and it's for a reason: although he isn't a top Twins prospect, he has a very good glove, and has demonstrated this season that his bat has caught up to AA pitching. If the hot bat continues, I'd be surprised if Beresford isn't promoted by July. So keep checking his stats!

Second, New Britain had been playing without a dedicated third baseman for a couple weeks, after Minnesota's own Nate Hanson was promoted to Rochester. Luckily, Deibinson Romero's visa issues were resolved, and he joined the team earlier this week. He's off to a good start, hitting .370 with 2 doubles and 2 home run in the first 7 games. In fact, he had 3 hits in each of his last 2 games. Romero, not a fantastic defender, was dependable on offense last year, so in the long run, his presence in the middle of the Cats' lineup will create more punch. Don't forget, last season, Romero hit 19 home runs and 23 doubles for New Britain, so he's no slouch with the bat.

Now, let's discuss our top stating pitching prospects: Meyer and May, hopefully our next "M & M Boys." They haven't been as successful the proverbial second time around the league. In his starts this month, Meyer hasn't lasted longer than 5 and 1/3 innings, but has 17 Ks to go along with 7 BBs. The problem, though, is that he's been allowing more than 1 hit an inning, and has given up 9 earned runs in these last 3 starts (a cumulative 15 innings). So yes, he's still missing bats -- 51 Ks and 18 BBs in 43 innings -- but he hasn't been going as deep into games. If these last 3 games are like the game I attended last month, it's because Meyer is struggling to either finish off hitters with a strikeout (instead, he would allow them to come back in a count), or locate his fastball. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Meyer has a 3.56 ERA. He's 23. He's tied for 3rd in the Eastern League in strikeouts. Yes, areas for improvement have been identified, but isn't that what the point of the minor leagues is? Instruction. Opportunity for improvement.

Finally, Trevor May. This month, May had 2 very good starts, and 1 clunker. His first 2 starts both lasted 7 innings, and he only gave up 1 earned run, striking out a combined 13 and walking 3. His most recent start was tough: only 4 innings, 5 earned runs, 3 Ks and 2 BBs. After allowing only 5 total hits in those first 2 starts, May surrendered 9 in the most recent. Let's talk about progress, though: May has not allowed a home run in his last 5 starts, after allowing 1 home run in each of his first 3 starts. His current strikeout-to-walk ratio is 40-21.But in those last 3 starts, the ratio is 16-5 -- better than 3-to-1. Both Meyer and May still have some distance to go before they are ready for Target Field. Meyer needs to better locate his fastball, and May still has to work on control so that he can work deeper into games on a more consistent basis.

One final note: after a very slow start, shortstop Danny Santana is hitting .280/.297/.354, including .366/.395/.415 over his last 10 games. Again, with this team, this year, I'm looking for individual progress and development.

Check back in a couple days. I'm attending Wednesday's Rock Cats game. Alex Meyer is scheduled to throw. But if Tuesday's game is cancelled, there's a chance that Trevor May will be on the hill. Either way, there will be something to write about, and I'll be tweeting from the press box.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Rise of Josmil Pinto

Contrary to what is implied here, I can report that Josmil Pinto DOES
indeed know how to wear his tools of ignorance

Twins catchers. There's Joe Mauer. Then a big, big gap. Sure, Ryan Doumit can technically sit there and intercept a pitch before it hits the umpire. But to call him a full-time catcher -- or even an adept one -- may be a stretch. Nothing against Doumit as a baseball player and hitter, but a reliable catcher he is not. And of course there was Wilson Ramos, but enough has been written on that chapter. And finally, Drew Butera. Calls a great game and has a great arm, but cannot hit his way out of AAA. Long story short, the Twins have been searching for their next catcher for quite some time.

Last season, I was on the Chris Herrmann bandwagon. And I still am, to an extent. He put together a very nice 2012, demonstrating that he could hit, he could catch, and that he could even play left field. Rightfully, he started 2013 at AAA Rochester. Unfortunately, 2013 has been rough thus far for Herrmann. He's hitting only .242/.308/.274 with 3 doubles. Yes, it's still very early in the season, and that's important to note. But it's also accurate to state that the first month-plus of 2013 has been disappointing for Herrmann. There's no reason to write him off -- he still has more than 300 at-bats to accumulate this summer -- but I am disappointed that Herrmann has been so slow out of the gate in what is a very important season for him.

This preamble brings me to Josmil Pinto. While Herrmann has struggled, Pinto has flourished. Pinto, who turned 24 at the end of March, earned an "August call-up" to the Rock Cats last season after batting .295/.361/.473 with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle. As I've written before, Pinto didn't disappoint. In 47 Rock Cats at-bats last season, he hit a nice .298/.365/.553. It's too small a sample size to determine anything other than that Pinto did indeed belong in AA.

This brings me to 2013. Pinto has undoubtedly been the Rock Cats' best hitter. As New Britain's starting catcher, Pinto has hit .341/.414/.550 in his first 129 at-bats. He has 7 doubles, 1 triple, 6 home runs, and 29 RBIs. Here's some league-wide information on Pinto, as of the date of this post. He's 3rd in the entire Eastern League in runs with 25; 2nd in hits with 44; tied for 2nd in home runs with 6; 1st in RBIs with 29; 1st in total bases with 71; 7th in on-base percentage at .414; 4th in slugging percentage at an even .550; 2nd in average at .341; and 2nd in OPS at .964.

I should reiterate that we are only in the second week of May. Pinto has not yet been around the league that proverbial "second time." But at the same time, he's demonstrating thus far that he has improved from 2012, that he can catch a good game (he has a good arm from what I've seen, but I have heard that he needs work framing pitches), and that it's time to start considering where he sits on the Twins' depth chart.

For my Twins' catching depth chart, I'm simply not going to count Drew Butera. It's the fan's prerogative, right? Nothing personal, but I've seen enough. He's earning more than major league minimum, and the Twins have 2 other catchers that can do his job for less. So as of today, my Twins' depth chart at catcher is: Joe Mauer; Ryan Doumit; Chris Herrmann; Josmil Pinto. If Pinto keeps that average above .300, keeps hitting for extra bases -- and if Herrmann fails to correct his early season slide -- I'm prepared to switch to switch those final two positions as early as July, when Pinto more than likely will catch at New Britain Stadium as a member of the Eastern League All-Star Team.

But calling Pinto the next Twins' catcher is too simple a conclusion. Herrmann had a very good year last season, and in my opinion from having seen both catch a handful of games, Herrmann is a better receiver. There's a lot of baseball to go in 2013, and I'd like to see both Herrmann and Pinto have strong campaigns that force the Twins' front office to make a tough decision in 2014. As this team rebuilds, isn't that what we, as fans, want -- competition from qualified applicants for a spot on the team that will cost only $500,000? And competition that might make Ryan Doumit a tradeable asset this season or next?

There's a long way to go in 2013. But so far, so good with Josmil Pinto.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ft. Myers Miracle; May 6, 2013 Game Ball

D.J. Baxendale. Someone give him a game ball.
Credit: Greg Wagner.

Giving out tonight's game ball is easy. Yes, there were good offensive contributions from guys like Eddie Rosario, Matt Koch, and even Miguel Sano for reaching base in 3 of 4 at-bats. 

But the player of the game this evening was Miracle starting pitcher D.J. Baxendale. 7 innings pitched, only 3 hits allowed, 10 strikeouts, and no walks issued. He picked up his 5th win on the season, lowered the ERA to 1.49, and that WHIP will decrease, as well. 

A very, very impressive 5-0 start for the season for Mr. Baxendale. He dominated a solid lineup, and didn't let up at all, even when his team put the game out of reach.

Thanks to the Ft. Myers Miracle staff for letting me blog about their team for a night. I look forward to seeing a bunch of these guys later this season, and especially in 2014. The Twins aren't great right now, but their minor league system continues to impress.

2013 Miracle Players and their Futures

Fort Myers Miracle catcher Matt Koch hustles to first base Wednesday against the Palm Beach Cardinals at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
Maybe you haven't heard of Miracle catcher Matt Koch.
He's having a pretty nice season thus far.

The Minnesota Twins are in a state of flux. Their pitching is (or will be) below league average. They haven't had a third baseman stick since Corey Koskie, middle infield has been a revolving door of below average players, and unfortunately Justin Morneau's future as a Twins player is very much uncertain.

What are currently weaknesses for the Twins hopefully can be opportunities for several Miracle players. Twins fans hope -- often even with desperation -- that Miguel Sano can stick at third base. If his defense is even league average, that would be wonderful. I'm optimistic: I believe that he is a very good athlete, and I believe he's willing to take instruction and criticism. Also, he won't be 20 years old until Saturday. In other words, there's time for Sano to learn. And as I previously wrote, Twins fans also hope that Eddie Rosario can fill that second base position for years to come. Finally, tonight's hero (thus far) DJ Baxendale, should continue to advance through the system.

Importantly, however, there are many other interesting players on this 2013 Miracle team with potential: Kennys Vargas, Matt Koch, Adrian Salcedo, Corey Williams, Jason Wheeler, and others, have the ability to advance up the Twins' system. Although Sano and Rosario might sell the most jerseys this season, they likely won't be the only Miracle players to someday wear a Twins jersey.

Eddie Rosario: Getting it Done

Fort Myers Miracle outfielder Eddie Rosario waits to bat during a game against the Palm Beach Cardinals at Hammond Stadium.
Eddie Rosario bats for the Miracle.
Courtesy of Terry Allen Williams,
Eddie Rosario is only 21 years old. He began in the Twins' system as an outfielder, but is in the process of being converted to a second baseman. If you don't follow the Twins, here's the abbreviated story: the Twins don't need outfielders in the same way that they need middle infielders. For Rosario, his quickest shot to the majors is if he can stick at second base.

How has he done this year? Offensively, very very well. Going into tonight's game, he's hitting .339/.371/.521 with 2 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs and 20 RBIs. He has 22 Ks to only 7 walks, so it would be nice to see his eye at the plate improve -- and his on-base percentage increase as a result. But that should come with age and another several hundred plate appearances in the minor leagues.

His defense has been much improved. After having 15 errors in 67 games at second base last season in Low-A Beloit, he has 2 errors in 29 games this season. Perfection? No. But improvement at a higher level of play: absolutely.

Let me re-emphasize that Rosario is ONLY 21 YEARS OLD. He will not be 22 until the end of September.  If Rosario continues to exceed expectations and improve his defense, there's no reason he can't start 2014 at AA. And from there, as Terry Ryan has repeatedly said about Rock Cats top prospects, their advancement is in their hands.

Why I Love Minor League Baseball

This isn't a sales pitch for Miracle Baseball games. I've never been to one, and I'm not on the Miracle payroll; I have a real, non-baseball job, and I just blog for fun. But I have been to probably 40 minor league games in the past 2+ years, compared to only 4 or so major league games.

And I, hands-down, prefer minor league games. I don't have kids, but I don't know how your typical American "family of 4" affords a major league game. Between tickets, parking, and even just hot dogs and soda, you're looking at well over $100. Get ready to fork over a lot more if you want a good view, or if you want to enjoy a beer with that hot dog.

I love minor league baseball because families can enjoy high-quality baseball and still have money in the bank. I love minor league baseball because you can talk to players before and after the games -- players that in another year or two may be Major League All-Stars. I love minor league baseball because it's easy to root for they guys as they go up the system. And I love minor league baseball because, for under $15, I can sit above my team's dugout and enjoy a perfect view of a ballgame.

The other great part of MiLB games are promotions. Almost every game offers something, whether it's bobbleheads, discounted tickets, or happy hour evenings -- the Rock Cats do their happy hours on Thursday evenings. Here's the link to the Miracle's 2013 promotions. If you can't find something interesting or fun on this list, you probably are not a baseball fan. If you haven't been, I encourage you to check out your "local" minor league team -- wherever that is, and whatever their affiliation.

Miracle Pitching Can't Go Unnoticed

Yes, it's probably fair to say that the Miracle's offense has carried it -- having top offensive prospects like Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario in the same minor league lineup is usually a temporary, and great, phenomenon. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the starting pitching.
Tonight's starter, D.J. Baxendale. Courtesy of

Through 2 innings tonight, Miracle starter D.J. Baxendale has 4 strikeouts and appears to be dominating a good Tampa Yankees roster. Going into this evening's game, Baxendale's WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched -- a good stat to measure a pitcher's general effectiveness over things he can control) was a mere 0.92. It's already lower, of course, given his solid first couple innings. He could pick up his 5th win tonight, which would give him at least a temporary lead in wins for the entire Florida State League.

But it hasn't just been Baxendale keeping this pitching staff afloat. As a team, the Miracle have a respectable 3.69 ERA going into tonight's game, and a more-than-respectable 183-60 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In other words, they've been striking out just more than 3 hitters for every 1 hitter they've walked.

This is important. The odds that Sano wears a Miracle uniform for all of 2013 get slimmer with each home run he hits. The pitching is going to have to be ready to pick up the slack when some of these top hitters get mid-season or late-season promotions.


How Disgustingly Great has Miguel Sano Been?

Miguel Sano doesn't look like this anyomre.

The answer: very, very disgustingly great. Check it out here yourself.

Going into tonight's game: Sano's .385 batting average is tops in the entire FSL league; his 26 runs are first; his 42 hits are second (1 hit shy of tying Phillies farmhand Cameron Perkins); he's tied for 7th in doubles with 9 -- but don't worry, that's only because his extra-base hits are usually homers -- he leads the league with 10 home runs (next best is 6); he leads the league in RBIs with 30; he leads the league in total bases with 83; he's second in the league with a .456 on-base percentage; he's first in the league with a .761 slugging percentage; and of course he's first with an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.217.

Yes, his defense at third base has been an issue going into this year (although it's important to note that his defense apparently is much improved), but you simply cannot ignore or understate this impressive offensive production.

Sano has filled out just a little bit.
Image courtesy of Scott Butherus, NaplesNews.

Ft. Myers Miracle Blogapalooza!

Good Evening Twins Major and Minor League baseball fans!

I'm excited to be live-blogging, and live-tweeting, tonight's Ft. Myers Miracle vs. Tampa Yankees game.
Please feel free to leave a comment here at the blog, or hit me up on Twitter @mnfanfromafar.

I usually post on the New Britain Rock Cats, and the Twins of course, but this game is a great opportunity to talk about a few players who are likely to be future Rock Cats this season, and future Twins in years to come.

A couple game notes: The Miracle are a ridiculous 23-6 under new manager, and former Twin Doug Mientkiewicz. This has been a really exciting team to follow. D.J. Baxendale is on the mound tonight, with an impressive 4-0 record, and a very impressive 25/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That's the kind of stat the Twins brass goes crazy for! Shortstop Adam Bryant was placed on the disabled list, which resulted in Aderlin Mejia getting a shot with the Miracle.

The last name I'll discuss, just for the moment, is Miguel Sano. I'm not certain that I've been as excited for a Twins prospect as I have been for Sano. He is tearing up the Florida State League, which is traditionally known as a pitchers' league: .385 average; 10 home runs ;12 multi-hit games, 7 multi-RBI games; 21-for-51 (.412) in last 14 games. The Twins traditionally have even their top prospects spend a lot of time at the High-A level, but you have to wonder if Sano will spend all of 2013 in a Miracle uniform.

That's it for right now. Please listen to the game FOR FREE, starting at 7:05 eastern time, here, follow along on the Miracle website here, and drop me a line!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Alex Meyer's "Rough" Start

Alex Meyer struck out 139 batters over 129 innings last year.
Alex Meyer, probably throwing a really, really hard fastball.
Courtesy of Kevin Pataky at MiLB.
For a Twins fan, I had perhaps the best seat in the house. Literally 1 row behind me -- same seat number in fact -- Twins' General Manager Terry Ryan sat with a pencil, scorecard and notepad. Literally the 2 rows in front of me, radar guns, operated by a scout I didn't know, and by Rock Cats' pitcher Logan Darnell (who actually tossed a great game tonight). I saw the speed and location of every single pitch. I watched arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect since Johan Santana throw, from right behind home plate, and I wasn't disappointed.

I'm not going to lie. I was pretty excited for the game. And I can tell you, Alex Meyer is as advertised. I'm not saying he's a perfect prospect -- obviously he was far from perfect last night -- but I can tell you, in this small, small sample size, I have no doubt that the Twins made a great trade. Let's talk specifics.

I watched Alex Meyer's worst Rock Cats start. The start was not bad. One inning was bad, and here's the rundown: Meyer's third inning started off with a line out to center, and then a weakly hit roller down the third base line. Mark Sobolewski couldn't make the play, and it went for an infield single. Thereafter, there was a sharp single to right field, and Meyer must have become rattled, because he walked the next two batters. He clearly was off -- the missed fastballs to righty batters were up and out, not even close to strikes. There was a mound visit. In other words, something with both his composure and control was off. That second walk resulted in a run, and the next batter singled on (what I remember to be) a sharply hit grounder to the hole between shortstop and third base. The next batter hit a legitimate sacrifice fly to left, and all the sudden it's a 4-run inning.

Meyer's fastball throughout his start was consistently 94-95, and hit 96 multiple times. His stuff wasn't slower, or weaker, during that bad third inning, and his velocity was just as good out of the stretch. He simply lacked control and precision during those 20 minutes. One takeaway: AA players can hit a 96 MPH fastball down the middle, when they are expecting it. Meyer's breaking stuff -- see this excellent piece from the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore -- was consistently around 79.

Here's the best part of the story -- and also the reason why I have no concern with Alex Meyer: that third inning was an aberration. Instead of giving up as Terry Ryan and other scouts watched him scuffle, Meyer battled, and pitched 3 more innings, walking 0, allowing 1 single, and striking out 3. Rather than throw in the towel, Meyer demonstrated in innings 4-6 that he is the genuine article; he can be what we expect him to be.

Alex Meyer dominated most of the hitters he faced. There were many embarrassing swings, many called strikes that baffled batters, and many weakly hit grounders and fly balls. And I will note (as a fan, not a 100 percent objective observer), that Meyer did get pinched on a few pitches in that rough third inning. I did hear a couple groans from Mr. Ryan.

So here's the bottom line, as I have witnessed from 1 Alex Meyer start: he throws really, really hard, and it intimidates batters; he has a great knuckle-curve that breaks down pretty severely; the fastball reached 96 on a night when it was in the low 50s in Connecticut (he has reached 98 in better weather); he didn't give up an extra-base hit in his "worst" start, although there were a few deep fly balls. He did get rattled when he got in trouble in that inning, but again, the next 3 innings pitched suggest that he can rebound from a rough frame. The "line": 6 inning, 4 earned runs, 5 hits, 8 Ks, 3 BBs, and a loss. The real story: one very bad inning in front of a nerve-wracking crowd, and an otherwise dominating start. And one hell of a fastball.

Please also check out New Britain Herald writer Matt Straub's write-up on this game here.

One other strange item from last night: James Beresford, probably my favorite Rock Cats player this season, was tossed from the game. I've been asked a few times what happened, so here is the story as I witnessed it: To preface this story, I should note that, going back to last season, I really have enjoyed watching Beresford play. He is an above-average defender, and although he will never hit for big power, I have held out hope that he can become a singles and walk machine such that he can keep advancing up the system. James is on his way. As of tonight, he's batting .333 on the season after having to fight off a couple other players last-minute for a starting role. He's taking good at-bats, and is walking when he can, and he had extra-base hits in consecutive games last week. In short, a good start for Beresford.

Last night, in a mid-game at-bat against a tough LOOGY, Beresford took a fastball for a strike, which I believed (from my home plate vantage point) to be a few inches outside of the zone. He took longer than normal between pitches, speaking with the ump. The next pitch looked like it hit the outside corner, but Beresford also took that one, again speaking with the ump. The third pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt, which Beresford swung at. The ump rung him up, and James indicated that there was a foul tip. Nonetheless, it was a third strike for the third out. As Beresford bent down and undid his shin guard, some words must have been exchanged, because he was immediately tossed. So there's the story as I saw it.

So it was a strange game. I went expecting Alex Meyer to dominate, and he didn't. But at the same time, I saw just how scary and dominate he can -- and will -- be. Going from 96 to a wicked 79 mph knuckle curve is devastating. Not many AA pitchers can do that. Twins fans, rest assured, I believe that this was a great trade. Nothing against Denard Span -- one of my favorite Twins when he was in uniform -- but Meyer will be an excellent return for many, many years to come.