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November 19, 2013

Prospect Debate

Meyer vs. Stewart

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

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When putting together the Twins’ top prospect list, the first two names required little-to-no thought or debate, as Buxton is a superhero and Sano’s raw power turns scouts into teenaged girls screaming at the Beatles, c. 1964. On my initial list, I ranked Meyer third and recent first-round pick Kohl Stewart fourth, which in turn sparked the following debate about their prospect value and risk factors. Even though Meyer won the spot without much of a fight, the email exchanges did provide plenty of interesting scouting commentary about the two players, and made the reports more comprehensive as a result. This is how the sausage is made.

Ron Shah: Early thought: Stewart over Meyer.

[Redacted]: I talked to at least 3 scouts last year who preferred Stewart over Appel. I know only one team actually had to make that decision and they chose otherwise, but scouts loved his stuff and presence. The "it" factor, the #want, whatever you want to call it that Appel seems to lack, Stewart has buckets of. The scouts all predicted he would be a quick mover through the minors and the type of arm that could anchor a rotation. And he's #4! That's a helluva system.

[Industry source]: After watching Meyer’s AFL start last night I can’t agree with you on that Ronit, though I see where you’re coming from. Stewart has better upside, but Meyer will pitch in the big leagues next year and Stewart has a long ways to go and while his stuff justifies it the #4 ranking in a system like this is (justifiably) aggressive.

I think the top 4 is in the right order, and I can’t believe I’m agreeing with putting anyone over Sano, but I can’t argue against it (you could argue those guys should be 1-2 overall).

Ron Shah: Just talked to someone who said he'd personally take Meyer over Stewart if both were in a draft right now because of the risk factor. But did say Stewart has better makeup and stuff, so he wouldn't be surprised at all if he becomes an ace.

Jason Parks: My thoughts on Meyer v Stewart. I lean Meyer for several reasons, the main one being his impact-level floor. Sources are mixed on his long term future, and I'm not taking a stand either way. But his developmental progress has at least made it something worthy of a debate. The reports on Meyer (as a starter) have been good, especially on the steep fastball and slider, but the command and change-up grades haven't always been so positive. I know the CH has improved, but that's not the issue that will push him to the bullpen, at least not as I see it. In the past, Meyer has struggled to stay in his delivery later in games, and when he starts to lose his body, he can lose the stuff and the location. A familiar scouting tenet is the disbelief that extremely tall pitchers can start, and despite not being a fan of binary logic (when it comes to scouting), the fact remains that the more body you have the more difficult the challenge it is to control it.

But for this argument, I don't think it matters whether or not you believe Meyer is a starter or a reliever. Either way, he's an impact arm that comes with a lower risk factor than Stewart. Everybody I've spoken to about the Twins system loves Stewart; he was a legit 1:1 candidate last season. But despite a high ceiling coupled with a reasonable risk factor, Stewart is behind Meyer in terms of development, and the possibility of ceiling can't eclipse that reality. Meyer has passed the Double-A test, and he will be knocking on the door of the majors in 2014. In a rotation, I think he's a #3: erratic with moments of brilliance followed by moments of command collapse. In the bullpen, he could be a closer--and a very good one. Basically, regardless of his function on the roster, he's a role 6 player for me with a low risk factor. Stewart might be a 7 at the end of the developmental day, but that day is still very much in the future.

Jeff Moore: As a general rule of thumb when it comes to ranking prospects, the less the gap between two players' ceilings the bigger the gap has to be between their risks if you want to rank the lower-ceiling player first. I think this is one of those cases.

Stewart has a higher ceiling, but it's not THAT much higher than Meyer's if you believe in him as a mid-rotation starter, which I do. I feel like the gap between ace and number three starter is smaller than the gap between Meyer almost certainly becoming some kind of major league arm (and soon) and Stewart having nearly all of his development in front of him.

For me that's the answer that Meyer has to edge out Stewart.

Nick Faleris: I very much like Stewart. The stuff is loud, he's an athlete, he's put together well, and he can hum. Front-end starter kit, for sure. But there's definitely work to be done. Needs to build arm strength and innings, as well as tighten execution. Not the same scenario as Fernandez or Bundy, who had loud stuff and a track record of carving deep into games. 2016 horizon?

Contrast with Meyer could pitch in short stints out of a pen right now off the strength of the FB/SL. As Parks pointed out it's a plus profile in the pen or a rotation, and he's knocking on the door. Stewart could be a monster, and Meyer essentially tops out as a #3, but a 2+ dev arc is too much time for setbacks/injuries/etc. for me to get comfortable with leaning on the ceiling for ranking purposes.

Meyer over Stewart for me.

Chris Mellen: I like Meyer as a reliever at the big league level. After seeing him a couple of times over the course of this season in Double-A, I think it is going to be easier for him over the long haul to come out in short stints as opposed to having to churn multiple times through a lineup. He has trouble maintaining both his arm slot and pace with the delivery, and while

there's some room for improvement, I see him as one of those guys that will have to constantly fight himself, which makes it hard to be consistent with his command. Plus, his change is well below-average and not really viable against big league hitters from what I have seen. Closer type all the way for me.

I can see both sides of the debate between Stewart and Meyer. I do lean towards Stewart. I haven't seen him, but a couple of amateur guys have painted a pretty impressive picture and think he's going to rise pretty quickly.

I like the placement of Josmil Pinto at number 5. The ball comes off his bat hard, and his swing mechanics have improved since earlier in his career. I'm not there with his control of the strike zone and pitch selection, though, and think he's going to be on a steeper curve in the bigs with it despite his overall level of experience (~2,300 minor league plate appearances). We'll see how it plays out. 7th slot guy in a lineup for me.

I'll suggest Berrios at number 6 ahead of Rosario. I like what Berrios has to offer. He's inconsistent with his fastball velocity, but feel he's going to work higher as the arm strength builds and he gets more of his lower body under him in terms of strength. He's advanced for a 19-year-old too. The stuff isn't elite, but I like him more than say Henry Owens as a comparison.

Mason Melotakis is a good "On the Rise" choice. The fastball gets up to 94 in short bursts and there's power in his game. There's effort in the delivery, but he isn't ugly. He does tip both his change and curve. I saw him as a potential power lefty out of the 'pen. His overall stuff didn't look like it was going to miss a lot of bats working as a starter and was the type that would play up well coming in trying to get 2-3 outs.

[Industry source]: I haven't been able to read all of this discussion, but I wanted to say that Meyer absolutely flashed a plus change in the Fall League.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues,  Top 10

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