Diamonds in Single A: Matt Meyer
As every Indians fan this year is painfully aware, you can never have enough middle men in baseball, and while they tend to get ignored as prospects they are a very important part of building a contending squad. Especially in the lower levels a lot of middle relievers have a bad tendency to get overlooked with a team like the Tribe, where they will take projected middle relievers and make them starters to get maximum innings and exposure. This week’s article will take a look at middle man Matt Meyer.
Meyer was drafted by the Indians in the 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Boston College. He is a lefty who throws from a sidearm ¾ slot. As with many side arm pitchers, there is a bit of deception to his pitching that leads him to being very hard on lefties. It is because of this the Indians seem to be grooming him as a lefty specialist or, in baseball shorthand, a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY).
Year Level WHIP SO/9 BB/9 ERA H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
2006 A_SS 1.39 10.2 4.9 1.98 7.6 0 2.07
2007 A-/A+ 1.46 10.3 4.9 3.31 8.2 .7 2.11
2008 A+ 1.39 9.9 4.7 4.23 7.8 .3 2.29
In a word, Meyer is consistent. The only major changes to any of his numbers have been in ERA. The rise in ERA could be attributed to a bit of luck earlier on, as it is unusual to see an ERA that low with a WHIP that high. The second stat to jump out is his strikeouts per nine innings. It is very encouraging to see that even as he changed levels that his strike out rate stayed the same. As you get higher the worst of the free swingers get fixed or fail out. So far, Meyer has shown that he is able to strike out hitters at a phenomenal rate no matter what level he is at.
To give an idea of just how high that mark is, there are only three active players with a strike out rate over ten: Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez. The only relievers in the top ten are Arthur Rhodes, Mariano Rivera, and Tom Gordon. Just for the record, Rivera’s strike out rate is 8.2, which is good enough for tenth for active players. Meyer is therefore not only striking out players, his rate shows just how dominant he has been in the minors.
The other stat that jumps out – and is a bit distressing – is the walk rate per nine innings. Apart from the base concern about walking batters, there is also the concern that walk rates for pitchers can jump up as they advance and face more polished hitters. There is, however, very positive information on this concern, as so far this year Meyer’s WHIP is an excellent 1.1 while only walking 3.3 batters per nine innings.
We’re only a month in, so I don’t want to look too deeply at the numbers, but they are nonetheless still very positive. When you combine that improvement plus the fact he will rarely if ever give up the long ball, it is very easy to see why many think that, at the very least, Matt Meyer could be the Paul Assenmacher or Jim Poole type that the Indians have lacked for years.