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A Prospect Meyered In Ambiguity

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Trying to gauge Dan Meyer’s progress from afar is like trying to talk to someone on a cell phone that keeps breaking up. You hear, “I –eed you to go t- the –tore –kkkhhhh—tatoes and sala—ressing.” And you’re like, “Wait, I heard ‘goat’ and ‘salad dressing’ but was that with “potatoes” or ‘tomatoes’?”

As one of the many fans who have not seen him throw a pitch since March, 2005, Meyer has been one of the most difficult cases to try to figure out this season at AAA. Presumably healthy and rusty, first off it’s unclear to me whether he is regaining command of his old stuff or learning to pitch with new stuff (less velocity, more finesse), though I kind of suspect the latter. But his results have been confounding even to the stat-head who is used to dissecting peripherals.

On the one hand, Meyer appears to have the ability either to miss bats or freeze hitters with strikes, because he is racking up the strikeouts (11 in 6 IP his last time out) in a lot of his starts. He is also walking a lot of hitters, which he never used to do. Is he nibbling at corners and not giving in, sometimes painting and sometimes missing? Or is he throwing a lot of offspeed pitches out of the strike zone, with hitters sometimes chasing and sometimes taking?

The high pitch counts and high BB totals are more indicative of a power pitcher, not a control or finesse pitcher, whereas previously Meyer was a power pitcher (in that he topped out at 93 MPH) with very good control (37 BB in 126 IP at AA/AAA in 2004, 33 BB in 147 IP at A-ball in 2003).

Perhaps someone in Sacramento, who has had a chance to see Meyer pitch, can offer some insight into what Meyer is throwing that has his BBs up, his Ks up, his pitch counts up, his H/IP (8.6) and ERA (3.79) both very respectable in this hitter’s league. Is Meyer rebuilding his arm strength, possibly to pick up in Spring 2008 where he left off in September 2004? Or is he making the Tanana-like conversion from a good power pitcher to a good finesse pitcher, possibly to “out-Braden” Dallas Braden in Spring 2008?

Dan Meyer is one of the most intriguing prospects I have ever not been able to assess, hardly at all, from following the box scores. I know exactly who we traded for, but who is Dan Meyer today?